It is important to remember that when caring for an adult parent that you also care for yourself as well. Any form of elder care can be draining on an emotional, physical and time commitment level. In order to be able to sustain your generous efforts, you need to seek out and be able to ask for assistance. You will want a network of people and agencies you can rely on for consistent support, when you need a respite or in the event of an elder care crisis.
As you begin to develop the support team as described below, remember that the key to success lies in the ability to ask for help. Even if other family members live farther away, still enlist their assistance and together you will come up with ways they can best support you.
Steps for Developing Your Support Network
- Make a list of each person who may be available to you such as family, friends, neighbors, members of your community groups and churches. For each person take note of the following:
- Phone number for easy reference
- What they are available and willing to provide in the form of help
- What days and times they can offer to you
- Check with your local Area Agency on Aging for respite and other assistance.
- Create a list of your regular responsibilities both in the role as caregiver and your personal duties to yourself and your immediate family. Don’t forget to include activities such as picking up your children from school or practice or helping with other errands.
- Next to each task estimate the duration of time (including commute) so that you can provide a realistic time commitment to your network and you do not feel the stress of rushing around.
- Begin asking your network in what areas they would be most able to support you. Because your list is detailed and specific it will be easier to get positive responses for these individual needs.
It really helps in sharing some of the responsibility if you make this list easily accessible to other members of your family so that if need be, they can make phone calls in case a change or crisis should arise. Remember that just because you took the initiative to create the network system does not mean you have to manage it alone.
In order to help you create, complete and maintain a thorough and organized support system, I have developed easy-to-use worksheets in the workbook of The By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living Workbook. While the book is written for assisted living, the worksheets are applicable to all levels of care.