How to share caregiving tasks among family members.

April 25, 2013 | By Lorenzo Mejia

How can my family decide who does what?  My brother lives closest to our grandmother in Durham, NC, but he’s uncomfortable coordinating her medical care.

This is a question that many families have to work out. You could start by setting up a family meeting and, if your grandmother is capable, include her in the discussion. This is best done when there is not an emergency. A calm conversation about what kind of care is needed in the present and might be called for in the future can avoid a lot of confusion. Ask your grandmother what she wants. Use her wishes as the basis for a plan. Decide who will be responsible for which tasks. Many families find the best first step is to name a primary caregiver, even if one is not needed immediately. That way the primary caregiver can step in if there is a crisis.

Think about your schedules and how to adapt them to give respite to a primary caregiver or to coordinate holiday and vacation times.  One family found that it worked to have the long-distance caregiver come to town while the primary caregiver was on a family vacation. Many families report that offering appreciation, reassurance, and positive feedback to the primary caregiver is an important, but sometimes forgotten contribution.

 

Acorn wishes to acknowledge the National Institute on Aging for this valuable content.

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