Regardless of the number of people in our care or the responsibilities we’ve taken on, it helps to remind ourselves that we can only handle one task at a time. Giving ourselves to each task without the burden of fatigue, guilt, or resentment will help us naturally discover the special meaning it has in our lives.
IDEAS TO EASE CAREGIVING RESPONSIBILITIES
■ Take advantage of automatic bill pay and direct deposit of social security and pension checks.
■ Arrange for yourself durable power of attorney, which gives you the right to manage the financial aspects of your parents’ lives.
■ Have homecare nursing and physical therapy services evaluate your parents’ home. Are the lights bright enough? Are throw rugs a hazard?
■ Obtain a MedicAlert bracelet to alert health care professionals to allergies and special medical needs.
■ Make a list of your parents’ current support system: doctor, lawyer, accountant, church or temple, friends, and neighbors.
■ Sit down with your parents and help them complete a Health Care Directive, Advance Care Plan, or Living Will. This is essential to knowing their understanding of their current health and preferences for medical treatment if they are unable to direct their own care.
RESOURCES FOR CAREGIVERS
Below is a sample of resources available for caregivers. In a role that can feel very isolating, it is helpful to know that many people are in the same situation and that there is support.
Medicare.gov, the official US government site for Medicare www.medicare.gov/caregivers/
Today’s Caregiver www.caregiver.com/
AgingCare.com, connecting people caring for elderly parents www.agingcare.com/Caregiver-Support
Helpguide.org. Preventing caregiver burnout helpguide.org/elder/caring_for_caregivers.htm
Family Caregiver Support Network www.caregiversupportnetwork.org
Administration on Aging. National Family Caregiver Support Program www.aoa.gov/AoA_programs/HCLTC/Caregiver/index.aspx
United States Department of Veterans Affairs. VA caregiver support www.caregiver.va.gov/
Caring Connections www.caringinfo.org
Kerstin McSteen is a palliative care clinical nurse specialist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and department editor of The Total Nurse section on OncologyNurseAdvisor.com.
1. Nursing shortage. American Association of Colleges of Nursing Web site. http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-shortage. Updated July 15, 2011. Accessed February 22, 2012.
2. Sandwich generation. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sandwich%20generation. Accessed February 22, 2012.