Tips for Sharing Caregiving Responsibilities

Enlisting the aid of other family members to assist an older relative may take some planning. Having the specifics worked out in advance will lead to a more successful outcome when recruiting support. The steps below can guide you.

List Specifics.

What needs to be done for or with the care recipient? Be specific. (Examples: Does he need to visit his doctor? Are the visits regularly scheduled? Does she feel better when she gets a chance to visit the hair dresser? How often? Where is the salon?)

Identify Helpers.

Are you the only one who can do the tasks you have listed, or is someone else available? Who has said, “If you need help, just let me know?” Use the worksheet to identify strengths that others can bring to the plan.

Ask For Help.

Help the potential helper problem solve about ways they can assist. Don’t overlook sources of assistance outside the family. Churches, civic groups, Councils on Aging and your local Aging Service Access Point (ASAP) often have programs to provide transportation, meals, visitation, money management, and more.

Be Clear.

Some “training” may be needed. Helpers do not automatically know the preferences, habits, and peeves of the person receiving care. You may have discovered techniques that “work” though trial and error. Pass this information along. If there are things like medication administration that must be done in a certain way or at a specific time, write down the details and be sure the helper understands.

Be Ready To “Let Go.”

If someone else’s methods work, let them do it their way, even if you would do it differently. Being overly demanding may reduce a helper’s willingness to help.

Be Sure To Thank People Who Help.

Whether or not the elder can express his or her own appreciation for assistance, it helps to add your thanks as well.

Plan To Share The Load.

Some tasks are very demanding. Monitor the helper’s level of stress, and if it seems high, perhaps a different helper can take over that task for a while.

Use Technology.

Using online planning tools, such as the Caregiver’s Notebook on the Springwell website ( or apps such as Skype or Face Time can help family members communicate and organize care.

Looking for more help? Springwell’s Caregiver Support Program may be able to help.