Q: Im in California, and my folks live in Massachusetts. Mom had a stroke that paralyzed her left side, but now Im concerned about Dad. Hes 78 and insists he can handle everything, but I can tell that caring for her is hard on him. What can I do from here to help?
A: Most of us, at some point, will become caregivers more than 44 million North Americans do every year. And your dad (like any caregiver) needs to be reminded that its important for him to take care of himself. This isnt selfish; it demonstrates his love for Mom, because then hell have more energy to care for her. And if he gets worn out, he may even develop health problems himself.
So, in addition to encouraging him to take care of himself, heres how you can support him.
Æ Share the load: Help Dad set up a team of family, friends and professional caregivers, such as licensed companions or visiting nurses, who can pitch in with household duties as well as Moms special physical needs.
Æ Arrange meals: Its easy to miss a meal when youre caring for someone else, but good nutrition is as essential for your dad as it is for your mom. See if neighbors can bring over meals or if there is a Meals On Wheels program in his area.
Æ Get Dad into a support group: The Family Caregiver Alliance has a state-by-state listing of local support groups. Theyll give him a chance to talk about his concerns and to find out about caregiver-assistance programs.
And now that youre a caregiver, make sure to take care of yourself, too.
The You Docs Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.