You Don’t Have to Shoulder Caregiving Duties Alone
How to Create a Family Caregiving Team
When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, someone within the family is usually designated to be the primary caregiver. If you are the one who volunteered or was “chosen,” then you already know that caregiving can be both extremely fulfilling and stressful at the same time. It is easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed with your care duties, especially because despite your best efforts, your loved one will inevitably get worse with time and be less able to show their appreciation. If you feel caregiver burnout creeping up, take action. Caring for your loved one is not your responsibility alone. It’s time that you assemble a caregiving team.
Step One: Ask for Help
You may be surprised to find out that your children, siblings, and other family members want to help but either didn’t know how or assumed you were doing okay on your own. Let them know that this is not the case. Reach out. Describe your situation, and ask for volunteers to help.
Step Two: Create a Shared Communication Network and Workspace
Once you have your team of volunteers assembled, create a place for communicating and sharing information. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Communication can be as simple as putting everyone into an ongoing email conversation, group text, or even a Facebook group. This is where you can provide updates on your loved one, assign tasks, discuss appointments, and supplies, etc. You can create a group workspace by using free tools like a shared Google Docs folder or a Dropbox folder. This is the perfect place to keep an updated calendar, task list, and other odds and ends like doctor contact info and a medication list.
Step Three: Assign Tasks
As the team captain of your caregiver team, you know better than anyone what you need help with. You also know the strengths and weaknesses of your family. Think carefully and assign tasks so that everyone in your family can contribute and take some of the work off your plate. Family members who live out of town, out of state, or even out of the country may assume that they cannot help. Not true! There is still plenty that they can do. Here are just a few tasks that you can assign out:
- Keeping track of and scheduling medical appointments
- Keeping track of bills (ex. medications) and payments (ex. Social Security)
- Grocery shopping and other chores
- Taking loved one to appointments
- Hosting loved one once a week to give you a day off
- Activity coordinator for loved one
As you can see, these different assignments will appeal to different strengths, require differing time commitments, and don’t always require the individual to live in town.
Step Four: Take Care of Yourself
Oftentimes, the primary caregiver thinks of herself or himself last. It isn’t just important that you take care of yourself, it is essential for your own physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. That is why a caregiving team can be so helpful. See if someone in your family is willing to take over caregiving duties once a week so you can have a day off and treat yourself. Assign someone else to think up activities, so you get additional time off during the week.
One great idea is to assign someone who is out of town to be your personal caregiver. Schedule a weekly call where you can vent your frustrations or discuss celebrity gossip or sports, or whatever you need to refresh your mind. If this person is in town, you could even schedule a weekly brunch or lunch so that you can get out of the house. If you can’t find a family member or close friend to step into this role, you may want to consider speaking with a local religious leader or even a counselor or therapist.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed with your responsibilities, now might be the time to start exploring adult daycare, professional in-home care assistance, or even a memory care facility, like Sunshine Care. One final option that we recommend is attending our monthly family and caregiver support group. At this group, you will meet others who are facing the same challenges as you. This is a great place to hear other stories, get advice, and ask questions!
Now, get working on building your family caregiving team today. Together, your team can give you great support and take some of the caregiving burden off your shoulders.
Categories: Memory Care