Family Caregivers Avoiding the Unthinkable – But Preparing for It

Family caregivers of elders keep things going every day. They manage their senior loved ones, their appointments, their medications, their family members, their paperwork, and their household among a myriad of other details.

We know how important it is to the health and safety of our senior loved ones to keep all our balls in the air without dropping any but sometimes we have forgotten to care for our own needs – physical and emotional but also our wishes.

As we push ourselves to the limit and beyond in meeting the needs of all who rely on us, we increase our risk of the unthinkable – a heart attack, stroke or other incident that turns us from caregiver to care recipient (hopefully not worse).

What will happen to your senior loved one if something happens to you? Who will take over your responsibilities? Have you put forth your wishes in writing or in conversation with other family members?

10 Ways to Prepare for the Unthinkable

  1. Who will be with your senior loved one each day if you can’t be?
  2. Who will be responsible for their finances, their health decisions and their wishes?
  3. Who will take care of your affairs?
  4. Who will care for your children if you are caught in the triple decker sandwich of caregiving?
  5. What happens to your home? Will the mortgage be covered or will it need to be sold?
  6. Do you have a will? Have you designated an executor to handle your affairs?
  7. Have you executed your own advance directives or just made sure your senior loved one had his or hers done?
  8. Are your end of life wishes known and documented? Do you have a DNR or living will in place?
  9. Who will be your healthcare proxy?  Who will take over your healthcare proxy duties for your elder?
  10. Who will care for the yard, the house, and the safety considerations of your senior loved one’s home?

We all have struggled with the decisions for our seniors, but we also need to be sure that all that plans are fulfilled if you are not there to do it yourself.  Certainly that situation is one about which we don’t even want to think, but we owe to those about whom we care to be prepared for the unthinkable.

12 Ways to Care for the Family Caregiver (YOU!)

  1. Take care of yourself as a caregiver
  2. Take time to see to your own health, see your doctor regularly for checkups and tune-ups
  3. Eat right
  4. Stay physically active
  5. Relieve your stress – find out what works for you
  6. Ask for help when you need it
  7. Join a support group or online community for support
  8. Enlist family and friends help
  9. Talk to someone when you are angry or frustrated
  10. Get respite care through an agency
  11. Don’t ignore your feelings
  12. Remember to pat yourself on the back from time to time – you are doing a great job!

One key is to avoid isolating yourself from others close to you by burying yourself in all the tasks you juggle. Chances are someone cares enough about you to intervene in time to protect you from overextending to the point where it harms your health.

4 thoughts on “Family Caregivers Avoiding the Unthinkable – But Preparing for It”

  1. Most people don’t recognize the effort and sacrifices made by caregivers. They do get tired too and they also need time for themselves. This article is actually a great way to help caregivers to take care of themselves and how to prepare for the future. Through this, people can avoid inconveniences and will have stress-free days.

    • Thank you for your comments–we hope all family caregivers will care for themselves too and use some of these tips so they can continue to care for their senior loved ones!

  2. Caregiver fatigue is a scary thing. At some point in time, all family caregivers will experience it in some form or another. What’s important is that both the caregiver and the senior loved one is taken care of. While family caregiving is great, it can put strains on relationships. Sometimes home care is a viable option when you are feeling burned out. But make sure it has a software that allows you to check in on your loved one. One idea that really helps is It has a family portal to keep you as family members connected with your parents or grandparents.That way, if you are burned out or experiencing exhaustion, you can check in and see what is going on.

  3. My Aunt went through a terribly rough time caring after her mother before she died from cancer. She had a very hard time accepting what was happening to her mother and as her mother got worse, she became harder to take care of. She wasn’t trained to be that type of caregiver. Of course she had children and cared after a family, but what she experienced with her mother was completely different. It was heart breaking to watch, and my aunt slipped in to a very deep depression. Even after her mother passed away, it was hard for her to even get out of bed. She finally went to talk to someone and it was recommended to her to read a book called “Waking Up: Climbing Through the Darkness” by Terry Wise

    It helped her get through her tough time, and now she recommends it to anyone who might be faced with care giving, PTSD, Depression or any other personal issues along those lines. These things can take a real toll on someone and for her, she talks about how it was nice to read a book that actually helps!

Comments are closed.