Article Series

Three Ways to Stay Close While Caregiving

Article submitted by Sandi McCann, President of HomeCare of the Rockies, Inc, Boulder, Colorado. HomeCare of the Rockies provides senior care in Boulder, Lafayette, Longmont and the surrounding areas. To learn more call 720-204-6083 and visit

Disability and age impact more than just the physical body – they also alter the relationship between mother and daughter, husband and wife, father and son.

If you’re the primary caregiver for your loved one – or the one being cared for – the relationship between you and your family member becomes inherently more complicated once the familial roles change.

“Often, the person who has long been the leader and provider of the family is now the one needing help from the very people he used to care for,” says Sandi McCann, president of HomeCare of the Rockies, Inc, Boulder. “Or the mother, who has always nurtured her children, is now the one feeling vulnerable and needing to be cared for herself. It’s an adjustment for the entire family and it can complicate relationships.”

But, you can stay close, despite the family’s changing needs. In fact, caregiving can even strengthen relationships if both of you make a commitment to respect each other and implement these three strategies.

1. Talk to each other, not over each other.

So often when roles change and one person takes on the primary caregiving responsibilities, people stop talking to each other.

Doctors, support staff, and senior care service personnel have a tendency to direct their inquiries about the person requiring care to the caregiver instead of the patient, even while the patient is in the room. Not only can this feel disrespectful, it can disempower family members and build resentment.

If you’re the one needing care it may become easy to criticize your caregiver to others. This can also strain family ties.

Instead of talking about each other or over each other, talk to each other. If you are the caregiver, ask the person being cared for her opinion, direct questions about her care to her, include her in dialogue. As a caregiver you may need to step in and offer information and support but you can include your loved one in this discussion no matter what level of care she requires.

If you are the one being cared for, have a heartfelt talk with your caregiver. Share your concerns respectfully and honestly without criticism. Work toward improvements together.

It’s important that each of you acknowledge the challenges you are facing. An open and respectful conversation can demonstrate how much you care about one another and enhance the quality of care and the relationship.

2. Leave time to be together.

When someone needs help and another is committed to being the helper, it’s easy to spend the day focused solely on care responsibilities rather than nurturing the relationship. Make sure you build in time for both.

You don’t always need to be doing something. Sometimes, the greatest form of care you can offer is simply to slow down and be together. You don’t have to solve problems, do chores, fix anything. When you can just sit and be with each other in the moment – no matter what that moment looks like – you’ll create a feeling of companionship and support that can ease stress.

If you do decide to take on an activity, do something that is comfortable for both of you, or take in an activity that prompts fond memories and invites story-telling.

For example, if you and your father once shared a love for baseball, enjoy a sunny day at a neighborhood Little League game and talk about the times you played the sport together. Not only will it bring you closer, but seniors, especially the elderly who are 85 and older, gain immense pleasure by sharing and remembering early life experiences and it’s also a good way to distract them from their pain or discomfort.

If your Mom was a teacher ask about her expertise, or tips for dealing with children, or talk about your favorite books. If you always enjoyed cooking together, pick out a new recipe and get cooking again, or turn on a cooking video. You could even go through the old family cookbook and share tips or favorite recipes. Jot what you learn in the margins as a remembrance when she’s gone.

Often it is the smallest, simplest moments that provide the biggest opportunity to connect and nurture relationships. Sharing a quiet moment or mutual interest with someone you love is a great way to start.

3. Preserve privacy and personal space.

It’s not a weakness to call on outside care providers for help; in fact it is critical when it comes to preserving your relationship with your loved ones. If your loved one is requiring more and more care and assistance with daily living tasks, such as grooming, toileting, and bathing support, it’s time to consider calling on a home care services provider for help.

This assistance will allow you to spend quality one-on-one time with your parent or spouse without sacrificing her dignity or personal privacy.

If you are the person being cared for, there is no shame in needing help with some of the daily personal tasks, but you may decide that a home care service provider can assist you more efficiently and comfortably. Caregivers from HomeCare of the Rockies, are specifically trained to safely and appropriately help clients with a variety of personal tasks including bathing, personal care, dressing, feeding, toileting, medication reminders and protective oversight. With this kind of efficient and professional support from our trained caregivers, you’ll be able to maintain some personal privacy and have more time to connect with your family.

Check out the Benefits of Homecare to determine whether a professional caregiver from HomeCare of the Rockies, Inc. can help ease some of the strain that comes when families change. A little extra support means you have more quality time to enjoy at home with your family.

About the Author Sandi McCann, CSA & HomeCare of the Rockies, Inc.

As a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®, Sandi McCann is especially qualified to help seniors and their families with comprehensive caregiving support and care management, and as the owner of HomeCare of the Rockies, Inc., Sandi understands that families and children of seniors may have a difficult time determining if their parents need additional help. She recognizes that elders may be reluctant to share their daily struggles with their children and/or families because they are embarrassed or feel they may be a burden. In some cases, seniors may not even realize they are struggling. If a loved one is having issues, but they are not ready to move into a care facility, using the respected services of a home care agency, like HomeCare of the Rockies may be an important consideration. Contact Sandi for a complementary in-depth service assessment.


© 2012, All Rights Reserved by Sandi McCann, HomeCare of the Rockies, Inc.

Posted October 2012 on