Family Members as Caregivers: Should You Be Concerned?

What Should You be Concerned About if a Family Member is Caring for a Loved One?

When a family member is caring for another relative, you need to be concerned about both the care receiver and the caregiver.

Understand that caring for someone who is aging, chronically ill, or disabled is an incredibly heavy burden. So if you are not the one in the trenches, don’t be quick to criticize. If you are confident the caregiver has your loved one’s best interest at heart, do everything you can to support him/her. If you live at a distance and you can’t visit often, perhaps you could contribute financially and help provide some respite and relief for the caregiver. Google ElderCareLocator.gov, and enter your family member’s zip code to find out what programs are available in their local area such as adult day care, nonmedical companion services, and short-term respite care in assisted living facilities.

If you can’t contribute financially and you can’t take time away from your work and family, call often. Be extravagant with praise, empathy, and gratitude.

If you suspect that your family member is not capable of providing adequate care, or if you think that person might be physically abusing, neglecting, or taking financial advantage of the care receiver, you will need to take action. If you have siblings, call a family meeting.  If you need professional advice or feel like you need to get a social worker involved, Google National Association of Area Agencies on Aging for contact information in your state. 

Nothing about this is easy. You might feel the need to intervene, and at the same time, you might be fearful of creating conflict within in the family. Suggesting something needs to change could upset both your caregiver and care receiver. It’s a delicate balance. Whatever you do, try to do it in person rather than over the phone or via email. Go visit. Assess the situation, and then determine what both of them need and has to be done to support them and keep them safe.

If you have comments or questions, I’d love to hear from you. Please type your thoughts in the comment box below.