What strategies can caregivers employ
to help lessen the burden?
Reframe your thinking
Love is the fuel that drives you. Remind yourself when things become difficult how lovingly committed your parents were when raising you. Chances are they probably had their
share of frustration and angst.
Don’t be a martyr
This is no easy task you have undertaken. Share the work. Enlist community groups, social
services and church groups for their assistance. If you are part of a relationship, allow time
for both partners to recharge. If you ask for help you will get it. Many community groups
and social services offer respite care for caregivers in your situation. If there is a charge
the cost will be well worth the investment. Day programs offered in your area will give
you anywhere from 4 to 6 hours of elder care in a supervised setting. Many long term
care facilities have allocated spaces for respite beds. Make contact with these resources and
see how they can help.
This is a Team Effort
Ask your children for their help. They clearly have a right to enjoy their childhood unfettered by adult responsibilities but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get introductory lessons now and then. Involve the children when appropriate in care giving activities. Elder
care is a strong and noble tradition in many cultures, including our own. Teach your
children well. There is fertile ground here in which to build character.
Avoid the Risks of Burnout
Don’t underestimate the task at hand. You can’t expect to handle everything yourself.
Involve siblings with a share of elder care. Allow yourself the time to regroup. Get out of
the house. Get out of town. Do whatever works. Take your needs seriously. It’s a delicate
balance. Looking after yourself should be at the top of your list.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up!
Being a primary caregiver for an elderly parent and raising children of your own is like
working overtime; all of the time. The challenge only intensifies when an elder has a
diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. You can only do so much. Recognize your limita-
tions. Don’t beat yourself up. It may be difficult now to see the positives but in time your
experiences could well be a source of comfort. I-L
Summer 2013 • ideal-LIVING