Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Is being a Caregiver the Right Decision for You?

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Ask any caregiver:  Caregiving is hard work.   Sometimes we take on responsibilities that really aren’t a good fit for our skills, personality or lifestyle…thinking it’s the “right” thing to do when it’s probably a bad decision for ourselves and for our caregiver.  mMany baby boomers are facing this decision as their parents age.

 “Be realistic.  Put it down on paper.  There are 24 hours in the day; what’s filled now, what will be filled with caregiving, what’s left for you?”  That is the advice of Mary Alexander, director of Business Relationships for HomeInstead Senior Care.  It’s great advice – especially if there are other family members involved.  Everyone is ready to help, but what’s realistic with the busy lives we lead?  We over commit ,fall short and end up in sibling battles over who is doing or not doing what.

 “I want to care about my Mom, not necessarily care for my Mom,” she said.   I think it’s an important distinction.  The toll it can take on your health and well-being over time can threaten your health.  I’ve seen it happen often in older couples, where the caregiver becomes so worn down and overwhelmed they too soon need care.

 Finding the right caregiver is not easy.  It often involves trial and error, finding a good personality match is critical for the person being cared for, and also for the peace of mind of family members.  

 Be an informed consumer when you look for care.  It’s not unlike looking for childcare when your children were young.  Ask for referrals from people who you trust/  if you choose a professional agency make sure that they have all the right background checks and paperwork with the agency and the training to handle your loved one’s needs.

  There are lots of home care agencies.  Most are franchises so you can check the individual office with BBB for consumer complaints.  HomeInstead has consumer resources on their site that you might want to check out.  

 If you choose to go with an independent caregiver you may pay less and you will have more responsibility including finding someone to fill in when the caregiver is not available as well as background checks paperwork for employee related issues like Social Security. 

 There are great resources available from the governmentabout caregiving and how to select a caregiver.  Or try this government site on caregiver resources.

 No matter what route you take in providing care, it can be stressful. Even long-distance caregiveing comes with stress, worry and guilt. Check out the stress test at  It’s just 20 questions.  If you are sharing caregiving with family members, forward it on to them.  It might be a great starting point to a conversation about how you are all feeling about caregiving responsibilities and whether you should be seeking some help.

Next we’ll look at what care costs and how to pay for it.


Written by Laura Rossman

May 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

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