While many family caregivers struggle to equally divide the caregiving responsibilities for their elderly parents among multiple siblings, who are sometimes unable to see eye to eye on care needs, only children acting as a caregivers for their adult parents face a bevy of unique caregiving struggles on their own.
In some aspects, according to social psychologist and author of The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide, Susan Newman, caregiving as an only child can be easier. After all, there’s no siblings to argue or coordinate with, which many family caregivers cite as a significant source of stress. However, the lack of siblings also means that there is less help and more responsibility to shoulder. While the initial prospect of caregiving alone can seem like a daunting task, there are strategies to help only children survive and thrive in the caregiving experience.
Build a Support System: Although “onlies” may not have siblings to offer support, there are plenty of other people that they can and should turn to for support. Spouses, friends and other relatives can offer moral support and assistance with care as needed. Even children can play a part by calling to check in on Grandma or offering to go over and help you with preparing meals or spending time with their grandparents.
Ask Questions: Making all of the decisions all by yourself is one major fear reported by only children. Reaching out to doctors, geriatric care managers or other caregivers can help gather information to make decisions with input to help build confidence and relive some of that decision-making pressure.
Hire a “Sibling”: Parents didn’t provide you with a sibling? Consider hiring a stand-in. A geriatric care manager or home care agency using a home care software or home care system, like ClearCare, can offer services to help fill the role of someone to lend a hand for only children. With a home care software or home care system in place, elder care agencies can provide only children with peace of mind. Technology like a home care software ensures that family caregivers can coordinate with their elder care providers, check schedules and updates on their parents all within the home care system – saving time and building up that feeling of a connected care network.
While being an only child may have often meant playing alone, it doesn’t have to mean caregiving alone. Although only you may know the emotional toll of watching parents age, a support system of family, friends and a home care provider using a home care software or home care system, like ClearCare Online, can help ensure that both you and your parents get the care they need to successfully navigate the golden years.