How Families Can Give Care Together

| By Jodi Horton

Last week we had the pleasure of participating in the twice-monthly Twitter chat, #ElderCareChat. The topic was about caregiving and family dynamics. It was a dynamic conversation, and the questions inspired some thoughtful responses from our social workers. That inspired this week’s blog post. hands

Family caregiving duties usually fall to one individual to manage primary responsibilities, and hopefully, other family members or close friends are available to assist. However, this is not always the case, and it can be distressing when other family members choose not to participate in family caregiving.

There are a few reasons why someone might choose to not take on an active role in caregiving. It can sometimes feel like “too much,” especially if there are unresolved issues with the person needing care. Many people also have a fear of illness and death. Because many of us do not become caregivers until forced to do so, there can be ignorance of what it takes to provide good care. It may seem easier to let someone else do it, or they are unaware of the sacrifices others are making.

Individuals in a family also sometimes have specific roles that were formed early on in childhood. Adult children may revert to these roles, which can affect what they are willing to take on in caregiving.

Understanding why is helpful, but how can you actively improve a caregiving situation among family members?

One of our social workers recommends a family conference. A list of tasks should be created, and during the family conference, family members can sign up for tasks or find ways to support those completing primary caregiving tasks. Ideas for supporting primary caregivers include providing time off from caregiving or a way to pamper the caregiver.

Explore the reasons why an individual has trouble providing care help. A neutral third party such as a hospice social worker can help facilitate the discussion, address family roles, and give family members the opportunity to state their desired contribution.

Family caregiving is challenging, but resources are available. Despite the challenges, many individuals feel there is great reward in being able to care for a beloved family member.



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