Managing Time with Loved Ones

Jacqueline Marcell Health Guide
  • One of the most challenging aspects of caregiving can be figuring out how to balance caring for your loved one along with the rest of your responsibilities. Caregiving can be overwhelming, and many caregivers end up neglecting other, important parts of their life. Here are some tips for how to manage your time and respond to a loved one who demands all of your attention.

    The best way is to set reasonable but strict limits of when you can and can’t be available. It is very important not to allow yourself to be manipulated. If you never give in to demands, your elder will learn that moaning and groaning doesn’t work and will eventually stop trying. If you give in to extreme begging, they will continue to push harder and harder, knowing that you will eventually cave in.
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    Another idea is to always use an answering machine to screen your calls and never pick up and respond if your elder is being nasty or negative. But when they ask for your help in a more reasonable way, respond positively to reinforce the good behavior, telling them how proud of them you are and how much you appreciate the way they have approached you this time.

    Getting your elder involved in activities is the best thing for both of you. Call your Area Agency on Aging to find the nearby Senior Centers, Adult Day Care Centers & Adult Day Health Care Centers. It may take a lot of compassionate coaxing to get your elder to step out of the comfort zone of being at home and consent to go where they don’t know anyone. Remember, any type of change can be extremely frightening for elders. The Day Care professionals are very familiar with this problem and will help you. Ask one of the social workers to call and talk to your elder a few times to develop a relationship before going–or perhaps they can drop by.

    Take your elder out for lunch and then casually stop at "The Center" to say hello to that social worker who visited. Perhaps the staff can offer a "job", saying that help is needed with the bingo, cooking or singing classes. Suggest that your elder "volunteers" to help the other seniors.

    Your elder may hate it at first, saying that everyone is too old, it’s too much effort, or they just don’t like it-but don’t give up. Continue encouraging no matter how much they protest. Eventually they’ll get into the routine, make new friends, and look forward to all the activities. The pressure on you to entertain will be drastically reduced.

    If your elder cannot physically attend a Center, you can hire a companion to come in and visit on a regular basis. This person can read, watch a movie, take them out for a walk or a ride, play a game, sing, or talk about the old days, etc.

    Be sure to call your local public libraries to inquire about their volunteer programs. Often volunteers bring printed books, audio books, movies and travel videos to the home. These deliveries also provide a visitor whom your elder may enjoy visiting with. Also, be sure to call the Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116) to find out about other programs for elders in your area.

  • Share your caregiving tips in the message boards.
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Published On: July 28, 2006