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When Children Become the Parents: The Challenge of Family/Friend Caregivers

By HERWriter
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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

An estimated 44 million American families and/or friends are caregivers for another adult, accounting for 80 percent of long-term care. Add to these statistics the predictions that the number of people aged 65 years and older will quadruple in the next 30 years, pretty much guarantees that live-in caregivers such as family members and friends will be needed for the long-term.

Many are unprepared for the onslaught of responsibility and stress that comes from caring for an adult, and many continue to provide care while trying to maintain a job and care for their own children.

The arrangement may have come about because of a parent or other older adult has started experiencing difficulties accomplishing or managing some or all daily activities or necessities.

If it becomes obvious that your loved one or friend needs a live-in caregiver, here are a few things to consider before jumping into the role.

Are you the Right Live-In Caregiver?

Assess your strengths and weaknesses and how you handle opportunities and threats. It helps to actually sit down and write out your strengths as a caregiver and how those strengths could benefit the person needing care.

Examine your weaknesses and how they could affect or have consequences in your role as a caregiver.

Examine what opportunities and resources may be available to you and to your loved one to help them cope with their limited abilities.

Consider the threats both immediate and long-term from the outside world and from inside the house. Sometime significant home modifications are necessary to make a house safe and easy to cope with from a limited-abilities point of view.

Tips for Managing as a Family Member Live-In Caregiver

1) Make sure you have documents such as blood sugar chart, medical emergency contacts and medication history chart easily accessible for quick reference.

2) Approach the person you’re assisting from the front and make eye contact to avoid startling and confusing them. While you’re assisting them, use a calm voice and keep making eye contact.

3) Adjust your timing.

Add a Comment5 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I was a caregiver for my husband for about 6 months. The thing I learned was that I needed some time for myself and that it was ok to take that time. Without it, I was worthless to my husband and to the rest of my family. I think it is imperative to find someone that you trust to help you out so that you get a "time out" at least once a week.

January 25, 2012 - 11:55am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for sharing your experience. Yes, that is extremely important. Just like in anything else we need down time, we particularly need it when all our physical and emotional resources are going into caring for someone else. It's important to not let ourselves get dry.

January 25, 2012 - 12:22pm

Hi Darlene, looking forward to it. Such an important topic especially with the increasing number of our boomer population.

January 25, 2012 - 8:01am

Caregiving is absolutely demanding, rewarding, loving and challenging especially for sandwich generation families. Another key element to family caregiving is learning to be organized, flexible and plan ahead. For family caregivers to prevent burn out, they need to CARE for themselves, ask for help, learn to take breaks and get the guilt out of their hearts because they can't do it all.

CareNovate.com Team

January 24, 2012 - 8:30pm
HERWriter (reply to CareLady)

Thank you for your comment. One of my upcoming articles will be on dealing with caregiver stress specifically.

January 25, 2012 - 5:26am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.