August 25, 2015

Getting the Family Involved in Caregiving

When a loved one’s health declines, caregiving responsibilities tend to fall to one person. In addition to managing appointments, providing basic care and handling health crises, the primary caregiver also faces the psychological burden of watching a loved one’s health deteriorate.

Because caregiving can be difficult, it’s best when the whole family lends support. Though people may disagree at times, caregiving can also be an opportunity to deepen relationships among parents, siblings and children.

Plan a family meeting.

Whether you get together in person, on the phone or by email, a family meeting is a great opportunity to discuss needs. If possible, the person being cared for should have the largest say in how his or her needs will be met. Make a list of tasks—such as paying bills, filling prescriptions and researching financial options—and assign the tasks to different people. Check back in frequently as these needs change.

Involve long-distance family members.

Sometimes family members who live far away simply aren’t sure how they can contribute. Yet long-distance family members can play an important role by

  • Lending emotional support to the primary caregiver.
  • “Visiting” their ill loved one over the phone or by video call.
  • Offering financial assistance.
  • Researching financial and medical options.
  • Giving the primary caregiver breaks for a week or on weekends.

Support Each Other.

Disagreements between family members are common during such a difficult, unfamiliar situation. Treat everyone with respect, and offer solutions rather than criticism. While a loved one’s illness is never easy, this experience can be a time to heal old wounds, strengthen bonds and show that special person how much their family cares.

Contact the Counseling and Education Center at 336.621.5565 or [email protected] to learn more about supporting your family through a loved one’s illness.