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Caring for Your Elderly Parents

Woman in hospital room
By Homewatch CareGivers of Charlotte

When it comes to getting help from family so that you are better able to care for your elderly parents, the issue isn’t usually that people are unwilling to help, more likely they just don’t know how to help. If you’ve ever been a part of a volunteer organization, then you know how difficult it is to find help, or to even ask for it. The one thing that volunteer organizations have discovered over time, is that the best way to get volunteers is to ask for specific assistance. So instead of saying, “We need volunteers to help with breakfast every Saturday for 4 hours,” they ask, “Are you able to help with dishwashing this Saturday for 4 hours?” or “Can you take breakfast orders?” So, the first thing you can do to get family to help with caring for your elderly parents, is to ask specific people to accomplish specific tasks.

Why Family Members May Not Help

There may be a plethora of reasons that you don’t have family members calling to volunteer their time to help you care for your elderly parents. As you plan out the needs of your loved one, and how those responsibilities will be carried out, you may want to consider the following:

  • Your family may not understand or even be aware of the nature or severity of your parents’ illness.
  • Many friends, neighbors, and family members may not know where to start, or what is needed.
  • There may be individuals who perceive that you have everything in hand and don’t need help.
  • Some people just aren’t in tune with how much time, energy, stress, and support is needed when it comes to caring for your elderly parents.

Instead of jumping directly to the conclusion that your friends, neighbors, and other family members don’t want to help, it can be helpful to keep an open mind and use the following tactics to see if you can get the help and support that you need and deserve.

How to Ask For Help From Your Family

It is important to get help as soon as you know that your aging parent is going to need caregiving. The level of assistance that they need may increase or decline over time depending on the severity of their illness, whether it is temporary or not. The more hands you have on deck from the beginning, the easier it will be later on. Additionally, getting help from the onset can help prevent caregiver burnout, which is an important factor to consider when taking on the responsibility of caring for your loved one. So, how do you ask for help from your family? Try the following tips and tricks:

  • Discuss Your Needs With Each Member Individually – Instead of having a family meeting, start with one family member, and ask if they are available for a one-on-one conversation. Private conversations are more intimate, and it is less likely that arguments will erupt when you and your family member feel as though you can have a private discussion openly and without judgement from others. Make sure they understand what your parent is going through, what you are needing specifically, and how helpful it will be to have assistance.
  • Be Very Specific With Your Loved Ones – None of us are mind readers, so it is important that you let your family members know the specific things you are needing help with. If you are able to help with housecleaning and groceries but need someone who is able to take your parent to the clinic or doctor’s visits, then that’s what you should be communicating. If you’re good with caregiving, but need a day off once a week, then ask if your family member can take over care once a week on Saturday so that you are able to take care of your other responsibilities.
  • Include all of the Details – If your family members don’t know what’s happening, they won’t know where to help, or even understand the level of care that is needed. In order to get more assistance, your family members should know where you are already pitching in during the daily routine, upcoming appointments, outings and social events, a list of medications and when they are taken, as well as any current problems or concerns that you may be tracking for medical reasons. If everyone knows what you are taking care of, then it is easier for them to step in if you need to take a day or week off.
  • Keep an Accurate List of Tasks – Staying organized when providing caregiving is one of the most important things you can do. If you keep an accurate list of tasks or “to-do” items that is always up to date then you always have something that you can share with others when they are available to help. An example might be if your sibling tells you they can help with errands most afternoons, and they’ll call on their way home from work twice a week to help with anything that you need. Your list will help you communicate errands quickly and accurately. Things to include on your list might be: prescription refills, bills that need to be paid, groceries, meal prep, laundry, house cleaning, scheduling or organizing events and family get-togethers.

Other Places You Can Turn To For More Assistance

More and more children are finding that they are needing to care for their elderly parent before their own children are out of the house. This means that they are trying to balance their work obligations, family obligations, and social or community obligations all while they are needing to help their parents. This often-long list of responsibilities can be overwhelming and often lead caregivers to needing more assistance than they thought they may need. Even if you can get other family members to step in and help, it is important to remember that there are many national and local organizations that are available with resources to help. These include:

You can also find assistance through local caregiver programs such as those provided by Homewatch CareGivers of Charlotte. Our team is always available to provide information, answer questions, and give you resources. It is always a privilege to provide our clients with compassionate and professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.