Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a Saturday hosting a workshop on caregiver stress for families in Central Dallas. Caregiver stress is a topic spoken about so often, yet so rarely understood!
There were about 100 family caregivers of all ages, shapes and sizes in the room. Despite the huge size of the group, this cozy room was wrapped in a loving support system that encouraged laughter to erupt frequently and tears to flow freely. And since caregivers unabashedly share their love, skills, and time…the afternoon grew into a natural time for sharing.
And share they did…
A 91-year-old was a full-time caregiver for his 93-year-old wife. When we were discussing positive outlets for relieving stress, I asked the family caregivers to shout out their favorite diversions. The usual suggestions were offered, “Going to the movies!” “A massage!” “A brisk walk around the neighborhood track.” Our 91-year-old family caregiver shared, “My wife and I climb into the RV and take off down the road.” I then asked if they had visited all 48 contiguous states. He affirmed that they had visited all 48 lower states, Alaska and most of Canada. That’s a whole lot of stress relief!
Another family caregiver shared that she was very blessed and fortunate to care for her mom. This loving daughter admitted that the various stages of dementia were difficult mother and daughter to handle at times. Yet, she was amazed that no matter how bad the day could be or how disorienting the dementia could become, her mother would remember to thank her each evening for taking care of her during the day.
This same daughter shared that her sister lived several states away and had not called to chat with Mom in many, many months. The family caregiver mourned the lost relationship between her mother and her out-of-state sister. However, the daughter realized that she was nourishing a relationship and building new memories that would last a lifetime….and for that, she was grateful.
This sibling was developing a positive coping skill in moderating the relationship between her mother and her sister. Unfortunately, we’re not all so skillful in handling the many aspects of family dynamics.
Therefore, Home Instead Senior Care has developed a program especially for sibling family caregivers. This program, The 50/50 Rule, is helpful in developing a team approach for siblings with tips that include:
- Listing all the needs of your senior loved one
- Researching the options that can help you meet those needs
- Dividing the needs of your senior among family members and outside sources, if necessary
- Listing the tasks that each member of your family will maintain
- Promoting sibling teamwork and decision-making by maintaining a regular flow of communication
If you would like more information on The 50/50 Rule, please visit Solving Family Conflict for more information.
And, you can download a resource guide for The 50/50 Rule.
If you have a story to share about your caregiving experiences that you shared with siblings or other family members, please join our discussion below or on our Caregiver Forum.