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Caregiver Stress

Caregiver stress

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December 29, 2010

You just received the big promotion you've always dreamed of and, as the youngest and as Mom's presumed favorite, you have taken over the job of her care since she fell. You're struggling with depression and resentment because your brothers and sisters won't step up to help. What do you do?

Caregiver stress can have serious ramifications for the lives of family caregivers. According to a survey conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care® network, 42% of family caregivers say they spend more than 30 hours a week providing care. That's the equivalent of a second job. This sounds like the situation you are in.

Sometimes siblings have a different view of what constitutes help. Some siblings may not agree with the form of help the primary caregiver thinks is necessary. There may be a disagreement about what the parents need, what they're able to do or the best course of action. Those siblings who won't help are saying, "I won't help on your terms." Or they may think the primary caregiver is offering too much help. These perspectives may also be the result of what's happening in a sibling's life or their relationship with their parents. For example, one sibling may be having problems in their marriage that the family doesn't know about. It's not always as simple as, "My sibling is refusing to help."

You can't do it all, though, and caregiver stress could lead to serious trouble for you and your job. According to the February 2010 MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs, employees providing eldercare were more likely to report fair or poor health in general.

Call a meeting with all of your siblings and find out if they are willing to discuss the situation. Why not approach siblings with specific requests for advice, input and assistance? A primary caregiver allocating chores may be unpopular. A group putting their minds to the tasks can come up with better solutions. Have a sense of shared situation and responsibility. And talk to your parents. Make sure that they are not telling your siblings that they don't need help.

Investigate community support options (in-home services, respite care) and use them. Consider hiring paid help if needed. Like all major life transitions, a parent's need for care is challenging, but is a challenge that can be met.

Please download the guide: 50/50 Rule® Brochure (PDF, 950 KB).

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. July 2, 2014 at 11:10 pm | Posted by Sal

    This sounds so nice and easy on paper. I have 4 siblings who all live within a 40 minute drive from my mom who moved next door to me 3 years ago. Mom has severe COPD and emphysema, she is on oxygen 24/7. She never drove it made friends, she did everything with my father till he died 4 years ago. One sibling comes to see mom about once every 2 months to take her to the lung doc and out to eat. She thinks this is sharing the load. In the past I asked for meetings, tried to make schedules, begged, groveled, cried, got angry and got nothing but grief in return. These siblings think because mom lives next to me it's easy for me to care for her. I am getting a but burnt out and gave health issues of my own. There is nothing left to do except do everything myself. Mom also refused any strangers to come help her and she won't go to senior centers. I'm all out of ideas and hope.

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