Faced with a parent who needs your help, you're suddenly thrust into the role of a caregiver. You're likely to discover that you need help, too. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to care for an aging parent. Here are five tips to create a caregiving team that works well for your family.
Hold regular family meetings. Gather your siblings and other key relatives to develop a care plan for your parent — ideally long before you're in a crisis situation. Involve your parent in all of the discussions. First up: Figure out the finances, how much is available for your loved one's care and what each family member can contribute. Make sure everyone voices their concerns. Put the family agreement in writing and reassess the situation every few months.
Call on friends and family members for help. If a friend or relative asks, "Is there anything I can do," have a list of tasks to be done and ask what they might be able to help out with. Are they available to do errands? Can they walk the dog or pick up books from the library or go grocery shopping? Make a list of a wide range of tasks and activities that need to be done. Set up a rotating visiting schedule for their help.