Help I’m Trapped as My Parents’ Caregiver

Dear francy; I have no idea how I was appointed my parents sole caregiver. My 2 brothers live out of state and my sister is just 10 miles north, but they never call or visit and someone has to care for my parents that both have advanced health issues. I feel trapped and guilty that I feel that way!

Well you’re talking to a gal that understands those feelings and you would be shocked to learn how many families do this to one of their siblings. It’s just the way of the world but you do have ways to handle it. Let’s talk about them.

If you get along with your family members then call a meeting and lay out an agenda to talk about. Nothing will change on the care side, I assure you. But you might be able to have them each help in their own ways via finances. If they can afford it, they could help with the cost of a care giver for a couple days a week, or just a bath person to lessen the burden you have. You need to have a break so you can be strong for you and your own family…so push the need for a couple of days of care and have the information on the costs ready at hand.

If your family is financially strapped you can have them do something smaller but will make a big dent in your working budget. Like they could cover the cost of protein drinks. They are $2-$4 per day and can add up quickly, if someone would take that cost over for each month, it would really help. Then there are urinary products (Depends) that are very pricey, special diet foods like extra fruit or juices, add in the occasional new undies, socks or night clothing needed and you have smaller investments for each of them and a slight relief for you. Don’t forget all the medications both over the counter and prescribed of all kinds, this is usually the largest budget expense. If you are ready and prepared with a list and the prices, so your family could pick and choose what level they are able to help, it would lower the strain of the care giving for you and allow them an easy out.

Make sure you get both of your parents to sign a Power of Attorney for medical so you can make all the decisions. It is one thing to have family not giving daily care, but anther when they arrive at the hospital in an emergency and tell you what needs to be done for your parents. Get that covered immediately.

If you have to sell your parent’s home to cover their care needs – you will have to be ready with a plan. I serve as a Senior Family Consultant for clients and I run meetings like these to disapate the anger and frustration. My secret is to have all the answers on the table in front of everyone at the meeting. Find out what the cost of alternative care is and price it out. Tell the family “if” there is anything left at the end of the your parent’s lives, then you can divide the remaining estate. But for now; your parents are the issue not the future investment of your siblings.

Finally, make sure you keep a small notebook with a general listing of things you do. Write down the mileage you spend coming and going and doing shopping and doctor appointments. It can be a very impressive investment with the rising price of gas. Someone may be able to help you with that issue each month, or you may have to take it out of your parents income to cover your costs. To do that, you need to show that you are helping them, not taking from them. You need to be given a replacement of funds that you personally spend and have a substitute caregiver to relieve you. This way, your siblings can “see” your investment in time, energy and money and it becomes clear to them that they too have to step up and help.

If your meeting is well run, some sort of pressure is usually relived. They may have long running family issues that intermingle with the meeting, but all in all, they will be facing reality and know that if nothing else they can give you respect for your time and loving care towards their parents. Be prepared, many times, the meeting does nothing but stir up anger. That is not your intent and you have to force yourself to be the manager of the situation and try to stay out of the negative issues and bring people back to the immediate problems on the table. If you feel you can not do that, hire a professional Senior Family Consultant and find more information on that on my website Or ask a trusted friend of mature age to help you with the meeting.

Be aware that promises are promises, ask right away what they can do and how they can pay for it. Could they transfer a hundred or two into your parents account each month? Could they give you a gas card or Drug Store or Grocery store gift card with a few months on it for you to use. Go over the ideas in your mind and have them written down and ready, so when the meeting is over, it is really settled, not tabled for another six months.

Giving care is a very lonely and loving thing to do. Until someone is in the position and lives the day to day, it is hard to understand what a challenge it is to all parts of your life. That is why I have my website, the Dear Francy Q&A postings and try to provide tips for caregivers. Your parents deserve good care, if you’re the one that has to give it to them, you need to find ways to keep yourself healthy and happy while you’re taking this journey.

If no one else has thanked you lately I would like to take the time to do so right here. Sometimes, just a hug and a thank you can change a hectic day into a place of calm. Please visit my website and find more information on giving care and getting help for the many situations that pop up while parents or older loved ones are making that progression through health challenges and on towards their life’s end. This journey have so many turns and has no set time, so you may think that you can not really do the job at hand. That is not true, you are strong enough to help your parents through their journey with love and dignity and you will see that long the way, you grow by leaps and bounds.

Please come visit my web site at Send my your questions and I will try very hard to answer them all.
Thank you, francy Dickinson


One thought on “Help I’m Trapped as My Parents’ Caregiver

  1. My name is Kathy Hatfield and I am the primary caregiver for my 80 year old Dad who has Alzheimer’s disease and lives with me in North Carolina.

    I am writing a daily blog on my caregiver website that shows the lighter side of caring for someone with dementia. There is also lots of information about dementia and caregiving, as well as a LIVE CHAT every Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time for caregivers who need support, but cannot attend a “live” support group.

    Please pass this link along to anyone you feel would enjoy it.


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