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Caregiving - Families Don't Always Play Fair

Aug 17, 2007
In our busy world, caregiving can become a complicated task especially when multiple family members are involved. Who will take responsibility for what tasks? Often the majority of the work is delegated to the family member who has the most available time. Caregivers placed in this position feel that this is not always fair and that their brothers, sisters, or other family members take advantage of them. This resentment creeps into family relationships.

The individual with the majority of the caregiving burden burns out and their health may fail. Statistics report that caregiver stress is at an all time high resulting in physical and emotional declines. Exhausted caregivers are taken to task by family members for not doing more. Or the caregivers themselves feel guilty that they are not doing enough to care for their older adult. Many times this is a no win situation unless other family members will commit to providing support through time or money.

Signs of caregiver exhaustion can be seen in the older adult through poor general appearance or hygiene, poor nutrition, dehydration, lack of socialization or missed medical appointments. At times the primary caregiver is so exhausted that they do not notice weight loss or other changes in the older adult that may be seen by other family members who express concern. It is at this point that family disagreements may occur about the best care for the older adult. Some family members may recommend facility placement or in home care because they feel the primary caregiver is unable to provide the best care.

In this situation a compromise is usually the best course of action for the older adult and the entire family. The primary caregiver may feel unappreciated or victimized because other family members feel he or she is not providing the best care. While neither side may want to be seen as giving in it may be in the best interests of the older adult to compromise. Outside evaluations from physicians or case managers may also prove helpful in deciding on the best course of action. Many older adults would prefer to remain at home if the cost of care is not prohibitive or if the care necessary does not exceed what can be provided. Many times a trained personal care provider can provide the majority of care when skilled nursing is not needed.

Families should know that there are many options available for assistance so that any one family member need not be overwhelmed. These include not only in home care, but day care, family counseling and other services.
About the Author
Pamela Dombrowski-Wilson is an author and owner of In Home and Family Services, Inc. a counseling and direct care company serving older adults and their family members. Visit htp://www.inhomeandfamily.com or http://www.pameladwilson.com for more informaion
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