- Ann Hollander
Caregiving as a team
Millennials and Gen Xers are using strategies that might benefit family caregivers of all ages. Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s now find themselves "in the sandwich." They serve as primary support people for an aging parent. Plus, they have children who are still at home or at least financially dependent.
One of their strengths is spreading the workload. A recent report shows that millennial and Gen X family members use technology to support their elder caregiving. They also embrace more of a team approach than their older caregiving peers do. Take a page from their playbook. To better share your load, consider these ideas:
Weekly or monthly team check-ins. Use phone, text, email, or video conferencing. Report about doctor visits. Share observations and concerns. Discuss issues that need to be handled. Create a joint caregiving calendar on Google or use an online platform such as LotsaHelpingHands.com or CaringBridge.org.
Whole-picture support. Ease the primary caregiver's total load, not just tasks related to Mom or Dad. For instance, someone might mow the primary caregiver's lawn. Or take on a child-related need.
Trade off duties. Life happens! Perhaps one person usually drives Dad to the doctors. If they have a big work project due, someone else can take on transportation for a while.
Provide breaks. Primary caregivers need time off—to preserve marital harmony or simply re-center. This is especially important if the aging parent lives with the primary caregiver. Other family members might invite Mom or Dad for a visit. Or could chip in to treat the primary caregiver to an evening out. A weekend getaway.
Help takes many forms. It can be financial, physical, or emotional. One person may have less time but more money. For another, it may be natural to call Mom or Dad regularly to provide social and emotional support.
Looking for a team approach?
Whether you have siblings or not, we at Options for Aging can help. As the North Shore and Chicago experts in family caregiving, we can help you get other family members on board. Or to find the support you need with community programs and paid assistance. Give us a call at 847-868-1445.