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5 Ways for Long-distance Caregivers to Help from Afar

If you live an hour or more away from a loved one who needs care, you might wonder what you can do to help. And if your loved one is cared for by a close relative, such as your brother or sister, you might even feel guilty that you can’t be there to share the load.

Even though you’re not available to give hands-on assistance on a regular basis, there are a lot of ways long-distance caregivers can help from afar.

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How to Get More Caregiving Help from Your Siblings

A parent’s declining health can either draw a family together or break it apart. Siblings may fail to take equal responsibility for caregiving and financial needs, often falling into the roles they held as children. 

Although Anne Ziff is an only child, she’s counseled countless siblings. Ziff is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and the author of Your End of Life Matters: How to Talk with Family and Friends. 

Ultimately, sibling tensions erupt as parents need care because, “everyone wants to be the favorite child, but most of them don’t want to spend a lot of time doing things outside of their normal life,” Ziff says. “Or, to be more reasonable, they don’t have time. Or there is distance involved that precludes cooking three meals a week and dropping them off. Kids have to be able to talk.” 

Easier said than done, right? 

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7 Ways to Support Working Caregivers

There are nearly 40 million family caregivers in the U.S. and, according to the AARP, approximately 6 in 10 are employed. You probably work with the typical sandwich-generation caregiver — you might even be her — a woman in her late 40s who works a full- or part-time job while providing about 20 hours of care for a parent and simultaneously caring for her children and spouse.

It’s not surprising that many of these working caregivers are stressed — and that has an impact not only on their health and the health of the loved ones they care for but also on their productivity and career trajectory.

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How to Ask Your Siblings to Contribute Financially to a Parent’s Care

Mortgage payments, home modifications, medical expenses, insurance costs, basic living expenses — the financial burden of caring for an aging parent is a large one.

According to AARP’s Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs Report, 78 percent of family caregivers incur out-of-pocket costs. In 2016, family caregivers spent an average of $6,954 as a result of caregiving, typically about 20 percent of a caregiver’s income.

In families where one sibling is the primary caregiver, it’s common that the other siblings shirk responsibility because they feel like they don’t have the money to contribute to the cost of caregiving.

Let’s be real: Most caregivers “don’t have the money.” If your siblings aren’t chipping in for a parent’s care, you’re probably bearing some resentment.

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Top 3 Excuses from Siblings Who Don’t Help With Caregiving

Caregiving for an older parent can be a daunting task and a difficult one to do alone. Distributing the burden among siblings can make it easier so no single person becomes overwhelmed.

However, gathering the cooperation of siblings presents its own challenges. Difficult logistics, complicated family dynamics, and grief-based disbelief can all be factors for why siblings sometimes choose to skip out on caregiving responsibilities.

What is a caregiver to do?

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5 Hidden Costs of Family Caregiving

The decision to become a family caregiver is a highly personal one. Caregivers are motivated by a sense of loyalty, a desire for closeness, and a wish to pay back for past caregiving.

What might not be considered, however, is the cost of caregiving. Most people know that caregiving will take time out of their day and require a measure of physical and emotional strength. But that only scratches the surface.

In this article, we’ll examine five costs to caregiving that go beyond mere time and effort expended.

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Slideshow: 5 Most Unexpected Challenges of Caregiving

If you become a family caregiver, you probably have a good idea of some of the typical tasks that care recipients rely on: ordering and picking up medications at the drugstore, discussing the care plan and needs with the doctors and care managers, helping with activities of daily living such as dressing and bathing.

But there are also some unexpected challenges that come with caring for a loved one.

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What Does It Mean to Be in the Sandwich Generation?

The “sandwich generation” isn’t like Generation X or the Pepsi generation. It isn’t about when you were born or what you consume. It describes your family responsibilities. People in the sandwich generation have at least one parent age 65 or older and are also either raising a minor child or supporting an adult child.

Nearly half of adults in their 40s and 50s fit these criteria. They find themselves providing financial and emotional support to two generations while also meeting their own needs and saving for retirement.

Fulfilling these responsibilities can be a physical, emotional, and financial burden.

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Common Family Conflicts That Can Occur When Siblings Care for Parents

A parent’s declining health can either draw a family together or break it apart. Siblings may fail to take equal responsibility for caregiving and financial needs, often falling into the roles they held as children. Or it’s possible that your loved one might feel frightened and vulnerable, angry they need help, or guilty about the idea of becoming a burden to family and friends.

Conflict and turmoil can be common when families need to work together to care for a loved one. Whether the disagreement stems from discussing who should manage a parent’s finances or deciding who and how care should be provided, one of the most common caregiving challenges stems from making decisions with and about aging parents.

Here’s a look at four common family conflicts that arise when caring for parents.

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Where Do I Start? Dealing with Your Loved One's Resistance to Care

Coming to the decision that it’s time for an elderly parent to go into an assisted living community is not an easy one. Not for the adult child, who has to admit that the person who symbolized strength for them since birth can no longer take care of himself or herself. Nor for the parent, whose lifetime of independence feels threatened.

Managing that passage from “Everything is fine” to “I’m willing to accept help” can be difficult, and it’s no wonder that parents can sometimes get resistant and angry along the way.

Understanding the source of their resistance and ways to overcome that can help adult children guide their parents toward accepting the help they need on their own terms.

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