Share the Caregiving Responsibilities

Ask the Experts by Jill Gafner

Q:  As a full-time working mother of busy teenagers and caregiver to my aging parents, I am often exhausted and overwhelmed. I would like to make some changes for the summer and enlist my kids to take on some of the responsibilities with my parents, but I'm not sure how to go about it. Please help!

A: I completely understand and empathize with your situation. You don't want the tasks to be a burden on your teens, rather you'd prefer they would willingly offer to spend time with their grandparents. First off, please realize that your family has been witnesses to your schedule and stress level for a while, even the best caregivers show signs of overload.

A good start would be to have a simple meeting and ask for help. Mothers and caregivers often attempt to "do it all," but the truth is, we'd be better off asking for help - so ask! Let them know you "need" them. People at all ages want to be needed.

Assign tasks they might enjoy, and maybe brainstorm with them for ideas - even simple things - errands, baking, taking to lunch or a movie, household chores, etc. But also understand that they will need and want some summer fun time with their friends. If their grandparents are up for it, sometimes bringing friends along will boost spirits and make it fun for all. In my case, my husband, who suffered from dementia at an early age, always liked to be surrounded by our kids' friends.

Above all, try to make it enjoyable and acknowledge their efforts regularly. Remind them they are part of your family "team." Kids like teams! Reward them with positive reinforcement and remember that they will benefit from and enjoy seeing the less stressed side of mom!

Jill LaFaive Gafner is the Owner of Global Training Experts located in Macomb Twp., Michigan. Jill is proficient in Alzheimer's and Dementia care, process control, behavior modification, sales performance criteria and quality control. Jill is a  Certified Dementia Practitioner and Certified Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Care Trainer receiving her credentials through the International/National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. In 2006 she authored "Personal Positioning for the Caregiver", a motivational guide for caregivers on staying mentally healthy while caring for their patients. Jill's successful message has been promoted on a national level through radio, television and on line support sites. Global Training Experts is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals. Gafner can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 586-419-6073.

Enriching Our Community Through Stronger Families
The Family Center serves as the community's hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. The Family Center is a non-profit organization founded with a mission to serve our community through programs and resources vital to today's families.

All gifts are tax-deductible.
To volunteer or contribute, visit the 'Get Involved' page, call 313-447-1374.
Email: or write to: The Family Center
32 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236.