Home is where the heart is, and for many seniors, it’s where they want to stay as long as they can. Aging in place is the goal for a lot of older adults, but there comes a time when they’re not able to do the activities of daily life quite as well as they once did. That’s when a family caregiver may need to step in to help.
If your parent or loved one is going through this challenging time, know that you don’t have to tackle the responsibilities alone – you can form what’s called a care team to help. In this article, we’ll cover the what and why of care teams, plus outline some easy steps to form one for your parent or loved one.
What is a care team?
In a broad sense, your care team is made up of anyone who is participating in the care of your parent or loved one – no matter how small the task may be. Your care team already informally consists of the medical care professionals your parent or loved one sees for their healthcare needs. This includes primary care and specialty physicians, physical therapists, home health care/nurses, etc.
But many needs aren’t related to medical services. This could be transportation to activities, meal preparation, running errands, or simply a social visit. That’s where adding to and formalizing a care team that includes non-medical help can be the key to helping your parent live independently as safely and happily as possible.
Why a care team is beneficial
There are many reasons to form a care team, and perhaps one of the most important is that it will help you manage stress and avoid burnout as a caregiver. It’s very common for family caregivers to experience stress and burnout because they get so busy taking care of others, they don’t have the time or energy to take care of themselves. Or they feel guilty for taking time away from a loved one who needs them or asking others to take on the “burden.”
But oftentimes people are willing and actually want to help, but they don’t know that you need it or how they can contribute. By approaching them with the care team concept, you can help them contribute and get some much-needed breaks for your own self-care.
Another good reason is socialization for your loved one. Socialization and companionship are vital for seniors’ health and a need that is often overlooked. So, members of a care team visit with your parent can actually help keep them healthy – even if it’s just a simple visit to chat or play cards.
By now you’ve probably seen the merits of forming a care team. Next, we’ll discuss how to go about doing it.
How to form your care team
Like any team, organization and communication are important. There should be a point person or leader (typically the primary family caregiver) that can help keep everything on track. Giving your loved one the best quality of life possible depends on everyone on the team knowing their role and being informed. The following steps can help you assemble the best care team possible:
- First, make a list of prospective team members. Consider who your parent or loved one interacts with frequently. This could be friends, family members, neighbors, or people from the community such as church members or other volunteers. Not everyone will be able to make a regular commitment but starting broadly and then narrowing down later is a good place to start.
- Next, determine strengths and possible opportunities for each member. Everyone will have unique skills and gifts to bring to the table, as well as different schedules and availability. Perhaps the neighbor loves to cook and provide a meal once per week. Or maybe your sibling is great with technology and can help your parent learn it and use it to make regularly scheduled check-in calls. If the members of your care team are doing something that’s in their wheelhouse, they’re more likely to stick with the team and have a positive attitude about it.
- Once you’ve determined who will be on the team and assigned them roles, there may be some missing pieces. If you are unable to fill these in personally, you may need to hire professionals to help. A financial planner can help manage finances, a lawyer may be needed for a will and other documents, and an in-home caregiver can help with the functional day-to-day needs of your parent or loved one. A professional caregiver can help with transportation, running errands, medication reminders, personal hygiene, companionship, and more. They can also be available in case you or others on the care team are unable to fulfill scheduled tasks.
If you’re fortunate enough to have many people who want to help in the care of your loved one, it can be a lot to manage. Try a volunteer organization platform like Signup Genius to keep track of who is doing what and when.
Forming a non-medical care team can be very beneficial for both you and your parent or loved one. Friends, family, and neighbors are often willing to help but just need to be asked and assigned the right tasks. And for those non-medical needs that remain unmet, an in-home caregiver can help round out the team.
Want to learn more about the role a professional caregiver can play? We have a wealth of information here on our website. Check out the “How it Works” section, which explains how to get started and how we hire, train, and manage our caregivers. Our service pages discuss what caregivers do, the types of care they provide, and our specialty programs which focus on the most common health needs of seniors.
When you’re ready, book a complimentary discovery call to talk with a client service specialist about your specific situation. We are here to help!