As more Baby Boomers become caretakers for their aging fathers, the stress of struggling with the issues this raises can become overwhelming. When you feel sandwiched between the demands of career and family, reach out for support.
Don't do it alone - secure help, even if it is over your parents' objections, and have support systems in place. Reach out, create a network, hire someone to assist them as often as you think is necessary. Betty was frantic about making arrangements for her dad after his stroke. "I was so relieved when I was introduced to the hospital discharge planner. Her expertise and kindness made the move to a rehabilitation center almost bearable." Make good use of community interventions, respite care, support groups and adult caregiver resources.
Be forthright with your family. Engage your siblings in the problems and the solutions. Ask for practical help and delegate responsibilities. Have them set aside personal agendas and work together toward collective goals.
Some nonprofit organizations nationwide offer free services or financial grants for respite care for family members who provide most of the care to their chronically ill elders. The federal government, through the National Family Caregiver Support Program, provided funds for respite care to over 190,000 families in 2004. To learn if there is a program in your local community, go online to Eldercare.gov and look for the Eldercare Locator, or call 1-800-677-1116.