Serving in the role of primary caregiver for an aging loved one is a big responsibility. And although it’s highly rewarding, caregiving can also be mentally and physically exhausting. Dealing with life changes like moving, financial hardship, or a serious illness can keep you from providing the level of care that’s needed.
When you can no longer be the primary caregiver, finding a reliable replacement (or two) is essential for maintaining your loved one’s quality of life. Using these transition tips will help ensure that your senior continues to receive the nurturing they deserve.
Caregivers Face These Life Challenges
Starting with all the time and energy that’s invested, being a primary caregiver takes a lot of work. As caregiver stress creeps up on you, it can place the health and wellbeing of both you and your care recipient at risk.
In addition to stress and fatigue, these life challenges oftentimes keep primary caregivers from fulfilling their caregiving obligations:
- Being diagnosed with a chronic medical condition
- Marital strain/other relationships
- Personality conflicts
- Moving away
- Job responsibilities
- Financial hardship
Your Continuity-of-Care Strategy
When it’s time to step down as a primary caregiver you’ll need to come up with a good strategy that ensures continuity-of-care. While doing so, don’t allow emotions like guilt, anger, frustration, and hopelessness to cloud your judgment. Here’s how to make the caregiving transition go more seamlessly:
Hold a family meeting
In many families, the role of primary caregiver falls upon the shoulders of the eldest daughter. Unless told otherwise, the siblings and other family members just assume that everything is going OK.
The first step is to hold a family meeting at which you can openly and honestly express your feelings. While communicating with care and compassion, respectfully discuss why you need to take a break and ask for help from the others. Use that meeting as an opportunity to devise a continuity-of-care game plan based on everyone’s time and talents.
Build a caregiving team
The average family has complex dynamics that can resurface at a moment’s notice. Those pent-up feelings can cause some family members to reject your request for help. If so, respectfully thank them for their time and move on.
As a primary caregiver you wear many hats, including cook, cleaning person, financial advisor, and chauffeur. Starting with family members that have agreed to lend a hand, build a caregiving team by taking advantage of other resources like:
- Senior transportation services
- Neighbors and friends
- Community volunteers that work with the aging
- Meal delivery services
- Professional in-home caregivers
If you’re not sure how to get started filling your team’s roster, a geriatric care manager can provide you with valuable “coaching” insight.