Posts Tagged "family"

Help for Caregivers

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Caregiving, Catalog, Family Relationships |

Millions of Canadians are caregivers to a family member. Many caregivers say they want and need help but don’t know where to get it or how to ask. Without that help, caregivers are at risk for physical and emotional burnout.  Before asking for help, assess the specific needs. They may include: respite so you can take a vacation support to make important decisions regular phone calls/visits to you or to the care recipient financial help – or help to manage finances hands-on help with care household chores Some caregivers report “rejection” when asking for help. If other family members don’t pitch in, it may be that they don’t agree with the “needs”. If you believe that Dad should never be left alone and your brother thinks you are being over-protective, you aren’t likely to get cooperation. Explore or anticipate other family member’s beliefs about the tasks of caregiving before asking for help.  Here are five more strategies for overwhelmed caregivers:  Look beyond siblings – younger aunts and uncles, cousins, grandchildren and nieces and nephews may be willing to help. Start with a family meeting – face to face or telephone conference call. Without phrasing it as a demand, outline your list of needs, then ask open ended questions to find out which of these needs can be met by others. Talk to family members.  Again, begin with a list. Consider what you can do to build or strengthen these relationships, and what you might do in return, particularly if you are caring from a distance. When making long-distance visits, take some time to get acquainted with your parents’ friends and neighbours, who may act as another set of eyes and ears for you. Reach out to the community. If your family belongs to a church, ask about assistance programs such as companionship, visiting, and transportation. Contact your local seniors’ centre and ask about community outreach programs. Hire help, if you can. Many private companies provide help for caregivers. Search on line or in advertisements aimed at seniors. Explore cost sharing with family members. This may allow the caregiver to use their time and energy most appropriately. Manage your emotions.   Sometimes our emotions and beliefs get in the way of asking for help. Do you think you might be seen as demanding or incompetent? Does your family member say that you are the only one that can take care of them? Does that create pressure or resentment?  Caregiver burnout is a serious consequence of trying to do too much for too long on your own. You can learn more about this issue in our ElderWise Guide: Caregiver Burnout: How to spot it. How to stop it. If you notice that your beliefs may be preventing you from taking care of yourself, consider talking to a medical professional, counselor or an ElderWise coach.   Vol.6, No.5 © ElderWise Inc., 2010 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE...

Read More

How to Choose Your Power of Attorney

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Planning, Power of Attorney, Powers of Attorney |

So you’re ready to write your advance health care directive for health (sometimes known as your “living will”) or to designate your power of attorney, but both these documents involve appointing an “agent” or “personal representative”. How do you choose?  Most people will think first of other family members; e.g., spouse, siblings, adult sons or daughters. For many families, choosing from among the relatives will make the most sense. But what if your relatives are not willing?  Or you are concerned that they might be not able to take on the responsibilities?  What if the person you want to name is not very well, physically or emotionally?  If you have more than one child, how do you include each without offending anyone? What if they don’t get along with each other? Here are some factors to consider when choosing your representative. Ask yourself:  which of my friends or relatives knows me the best? Would they willingly act on my behalf? Will they know what I would want? Do they hold some of the same values as I do? Making decisions about your health care and managing your financial matters are two distinct responsibilities. They can call for different skills and roles.To act as your agent for health care decisions might be emotionally demanding. This person may have to decide whether to give permission for a treatment, or to participate in choosing where you will live. They will also have to collaborate with health care providers and probably with other family members. For managing your finances, you may want to choose someone who has business or financial experience…or someone who is highly organized and detail-oriented. Once you identify the roles and challenges of a representative, you could consider asking more than one person to accept the responsibility. For example, you might ask your son and your brother to work together because you know that they would make a good team. If you know that family members will not be able to fulfill these roles without considerable conflict, then consider asking a trusted professional, such as those listed below, to act for you:a. Accountant b. Financial advisor c. Estate planner d. Lawyer e. Trust company Finally, don’t just write it and forget it.  Just as you would with your will, you should update these documents whenever your circumstances – and those of your agent or representative – change. Decide for Yourself is your complete ElderWise e-guide to preparing your power of attorney and personal health directive in Canada. For more information and to purchase this e-guide, with specific information on each province and territory, click here. Vol. 5, No. 5 © ElderWise Publishing 2009-2010. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise , Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter....

Read More

When Aging Parents Won’t Accept Help

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Family Relationships, Sensitive Conversations |

Even families who have good relationships with each other face challenges and uncertainty when the needs of aging parents change. One of the common issues is aging parents who appear to refuse help. It causes frustration in adult children and anxiety in the aging parent. An impasse can easily result. Several new dynamics emerge. You become aware of your own emotions – worry, sadness, anger. If you have siblings, you wonder what roles each of you will play to support each other and your parents. You may feel anxious because family relationships have been strained in the past.   Most families face one or more of four common challenges:  WHAT IF MY PARENTS WON’T ACCEPT MY HELP? Initial discussions can be difficult, especially if your parents do not see the need for help, or are unwilling to accept help because they don’t want to be a burden.  People need to feel that their relationships are two-way. If you can find ways to show your parents that they are giving you something in return for your assistance, they may be more inclined to accept your help. Your parents may worry that getting help means a loss of independence. Try to discuss this topic when it is a “future possibility.” Ask your parents how they want to handle future needs for support. You may need to obtain more information about services available in your parent’s community so that your parent is making an informed choice.  Some people refuse help because of mental or emotional problems or disorders. If your parent has addictions to alcohol or drugs, he/she may not willingly accept your advice. If your parent has a long-standing mental health disorder, they may rebuke advice for treatment. If you are caught in one of these distressing situations, you might find help by accessing a local seniors’ centre, local health organizations, or professional counseling. It’s important to involve others in these discussions. When someone else notes the need for help and confirms what you have been saying, your parents may be more inclined to agree. They may listen more closely to their peers or prefer to have friends help out rather than ask you to do so. Ultimately, you must respect a parent’s decision even if you do not agree with it. Unless there is a major risk to others, or your parent is not competent to make decisions because of a medical diagnosis, your parent has the right to choose. Adapted from: Your Aging Parents (2ed.), p.62 These situations have the potential to push a family further apart, but they can also bring it closer together. Managing our own feelings and reactions, respecting and accepting other viewpoints, and communicating effectively are the keys to surviving these challenges.   Vol. 6, No. 3, © ElderWise Publishing 2010. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE...

Read More