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January 26, 2009
When Mom Wants to Break Up Your Relationship

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When the Inevitable Moving Day Comes for Mom and Dad

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Running Ragged in Caregiving Runaround

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Getting a Handle on Your Own Stress

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Posted: June 16, 2008

Practical Caregiving

Finding Ways to Best Help Mom and Dad

Whether you’re a caregiver on the spot or living at some distance and feeling guilty about not being able to do more, the search for solutions that help your loved one and give you more peace of mind are endless. Necessity sometimes sparks answers on different ways to approach caregiving. 

Shelly in Illinois and Glenda in North Carolina have their thinking caps on, trying to grapple better with caregiving for their parents. But they’re not sure of the path and have written me for my advice. I pulled their letters from my e-mailbag and will share it all with you here.



Dear Jean:


My sister is taking care of my parents at home in California. I live in Illinois. I would love to help her, but there is no way I can. I live too far away. There are three of us kids, and my brother and I have talked about this in depth. My sister says she can handle it, but I don’t want her to have to do it alone. My brother and I call them once a week, but it seems that’s all we can do.


The problem is that my brother and I feel terribly guilty because we can’t help my sister. How can we get rid of that guilt?


Shelly L., Rockford, Illinois


Dear Shelly:


Even if you can’t be there to physically help take care of your parents, there are many things you can do to help your sister.


You said you have discussed this with your brother, but you didn’t say you have discussed it with your sister. If you haven’t, contact her and ask what you can do to help. She may know of something but hasn’t asked. She definitely needs your support; all caregivers need support.


Tell her you appreciate what she is doing. Ask her if there is any information you can help her find. What about finding home health care agencies for her? Can you make other phone calls for her?


Money is something else that will definitely help your sister. Would it be possible for you and your brother to send some amount of money each month? Enough to pay for someone to come into the house so your sister can have a few hours away from the home? What about paying for groceries? Or a new outfit for your sister? A massage? A day doing something she would enjoy?


There are a multitude of things you might be able to do. Use your imagination. Think of what you would need if you were taking care of your parents in your home. When you find things you can do to help, do them freely and stop feeling guilty about not being there. You are giving the help you can, and that is all you can do. At least you will be doing something.




Dear Jean:


I have lived with my parents for several years. As their health has declined, I have taken on the caregiver role. Mom developed cancer, and I nursed her at home with natural healing after the doctors could not do anything more for her. Mom lived a full year longer with the natural healing alternative.


Dad’s health has taken a turn for the worse, and he is bed-bound. I am using the natural healing alternatives on Dad, rather than the normal medical medicines. Apparently someone thought I was taking his money or not taking good care of him, and they turned me in to Social Services.


I need advice how to handle this without causing Dad more stress or discomfort. I have heard horror stories about the government taking over the care of a parent.


My Dad is not in major pain, and his needs are being met. It is one thing to home-care for a parent, but another to do so without medical assistance. Do you have any advice on how to handle Social Services?


Glenda J., Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Dear Glenda:


Doctors have come a long way in their acceptance of alternative medical treatment. I know a lady who is using what we call alternative medicine. She went into hospice, and then started using a doctor trained in Chinese medicine. She just keeps fighting off various problems, and her medical doctor accepts this without question.


My suggestion is to find a doctor who approves of alternative medicine. Then consult with them about your father’s health situation and the natural healing alternative you are using. Depending on what you are using, the doctor may agree to oversee this type of treatment.


Get home health care to come to the house and help with your father. I assume that your Dad has Medicare. It will pay for this, with a doctor’s approval. Even if they come in one hour a week, it will help protect you against complaints. There is a social worker, nurse and CNA (Certified Nurses Assistant) that make sure your father is getting the care he needs, as well as you.


With your father getting worse, you will need the help, anyway. The nurses work closely with doctors. When your father is ill, you may not need to take him into the doctor’s office. The nurse can call the doctor, explain his physical condition and get anything he needs. They can even bring x-ray units to the house.


If you are doing something that is helping him get better, they won't complain. 

Ask Social Services about obtaining home health care to help you make sure you are providing the best care for your father. Explain the situation, if you haven't already. Getting home health care in might help them relax and not keep checking on you forever.

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Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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