COL Broaching the sensitive subject of caregiving

Are you a caregiver? Many people do not realize it, but they are part of an informal caregiving network.

If you help your spouse take a shower or if a neighbor relies on you for transportation to the grocery store, you are a caregiver. If you visit your parents house once a week to do some light housekeeping for them or if they rely on you to keep track of their finances, you are a caregiver. According to the Minnesota Board on Aging, by 2005, as many as half of our families will be taking care of a dependent parent, relative or friend.

It can often be a challenge to share your concerns with your loved ones. In addition, the manner in which you approach the concerns may have an impact on how receptive they are to your suggestions. Here is a list of suggestions to help in addressing some sensitive issues with your loved ones:

Do it for the right reasons. Suggest the change because it will benefit your loved one, not because it will make you feel better and worry less.

Find the right time. Try to find a natural moment to slide in the discussion. For example, if your spouse is having trouble reaching his socks on the floor, you could suggest purchasing a device to help grab the item.


Give a gift. If your loved one is reluctant to accept services, try to include it as part of your next gift-giving occasion. You could offer to buy housekeeping services as their Christmas gift in the hopes that they will continue to use the service after your gift has ended. Another idea would be to purchase a helpful device them.

These are just a few suggestions. If you or someone you know is an informal caregiver confronting these issues, please feel free to call for more information. You may call the Advocacy office at 287-1408.

Sandra Archer is director of the Advocacy Program in Olmsted County.

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