One of the most time consuming tasks a family caregiver may face is communicating. Communicating with your loved one, other family members, the medical team and the list goes on. Providing assistance from afar can assist and relieve the work load placed on the primary caregiver in many ways. Here are ideas for supporting your sibling caring for a loved one:
Make phone calls and take care of paper work - Schedule doctor appointments and keep a record of health issues, medications, and treatment options. Plan your loved ones monthly calendar and send reminders. Make phone calls and line up contractors for home repairs. Review the estimates for repairs and assist your loved one in making a decision. Be the designated "research person". Pay bills and become the money manager. All of these tasks can be a major time saver for the primary caregiver.
Take the call - Whenever possible, be there to listen and offer emotional support to your siblings when it is needed. You may be the only person in the world who truly "gets it". I have found that just listening and validating emotions goes a long way. Often, the primary caregiver just needs someone to hear what they are going through and to agree that they have the world's most difficult job.
Diffuse tension - Many times our loved ones become stressed at having to make difficult decisions. Loved ones with diminished cognitive skills, can have a very difficult times with decision making and this can lead to frustration, confusion and anger which may be taken out on the primary caregiver. Because of the distance it can help you to remain calm and dispassionate, guiding your loved one through the decision making process and listening to concerns which all parties appreciate.
Show appreciation - Caregiving is a difficult job and often the rewards are few and far between. Sincere appreciation goes a long way in sustaining a sibling who is handling most of the care responsibilities. Consider a gift certificate for a relaxing spa treatment or a gift card to a movie and dinner. This will give your sibling something nice to look forward to and let then know how much you value the sacrifices they are making to care for your loved one.
Schedule respite care - Out of town siblings simply must make the time to take over for the primary caregiver from time to time. Besides, providing much needed respite, it is important to stay current on a parent's changing needs. The holidays are a great time to visit and relieve an overtaxed sibling. If personal circumstances prevent travel, consider making arrangements with a Professional Caregiver Agency to provide respite care. A small investment in giving a tired family member the rest needed to sustain them as a caregiver is truly worthwhile.
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