Over 30 million unpaid caregivers in the US take care of aging in place loved ones every year by providing them with essential services like meals, transportation and housekeeping. As their loved one’s care needs change many of those same informal caregivers rely on others for support- including paid professionals. However, forming an efficient caregiver team can be challenging if you’ve never done it before. Here’s how to build a caregiving “dream team” so that your senior will continue enjoying a higher quality of life.

Assess Your Senior’s Needs

First, compile a list of the activities of daily living (ADLs) that your senior needs assistance with- starting with these:

  • Food shopping, meal preparation and feeding
  • Transportation
  • Bill paying and finance management
  • Housekeeping
  • Personal hygiene (bathing, toileting, grooming, etc.)
  • Medication management
  • Transferring

Once you have your list ready decide which tasks that you can realistically handle each week with everything else on your plate. After all, caregiver stress is a common problem for many informal caregivers- one that you’ll need to avoid.

Assemble Your Care Team

Once you’ve thought about your capabilities it’s time to build a care team around you. Start with the names of trusted family members, neighbors and friends that your loved one interacts with on a regular basis.

After you have some potential recruits in mind, you’ll need to consider what each one brings to the table. For example, if your brother is an accountant, he may be the perfect choice for assisting mom or dad with their finances. If your sister’s a nurse, she might be willing to help your parent manage their meds and sit in on doctor’s appointments.

Once you have a list of potential care team members it’s time to meet with them in person.

Hold a team meeting

Schedule a meeting with all the candidates to assess each one’s interest level and availability. If any of the attendees aren’t interested in participating graciously thank them for their time. Anyone with a negative attitude is probably going to be more of a hindrance than asset anyway.

Based on what you’ve learned narrow down your care team to a foolproof roster of trusted individuals who can provide hands-on care as often as it’s needed.

Delegate responsibilities

Based on each member’s skills and availability use a caregiving calendar to assign tasks for the upcoming week. When delegating responsibilities be as specific as possible so that no aspects of your loved one’s care get overlooked.

For example, find out if mom’s best friend can pick her up every Wednesday evening from the senior center. Or, designate a specific team member to drop off dinner for dad every evening.

Also be sure to have a backup strategy ready if one of the team members can’t perform their assigned duties. Having both