Q&A with Aging Care Expert Carol Bradley Bursack

Posted July 25, 2014

Taking care of a parent with increasing health issues? You aren’t alone.

Here are two things we learned about the state of caregiving today from our interview with aging care consultant and author Carol Bradley Bursack.

1. As caregivers, we should work to avoid the phrase “role reversal” as much as possible.

“I feel strongly about the idea of avoiding the ‘role reversal’ phrase that we often hear,” argues Bursack. Bursack is also an author, columnist and speaker on caregiving. As a caregiving expert, she authored the book “Minding Our Elders,” a book that helps support caregivers, but that’s also used in the curriculum for students who will be involved in elder care.

“I do understand why people use those terms—because they are catch phrases and they get across the meaning quite easily, but what we are thinking, we act on,” she explains.

“If we continue to think of our parents as if they are babies or children,” Bursack says, “it can start to affect the way we care for them.

“If we start having those thoughts—and they can happen—it doesn’t mean we are bad people. But if that kind of thinking becomes a habit, then it’s easy to lose respect for our elder,” she says.

“I do feel the dignity of the elder is primary, and we have to keep that in mind as caregivers.”

2. Children of aging parents need to seek out help to do their best as caregivers.

We asked Bursack the question: why is caregiving so much more of an issue now that it was a generation back?

Bursack explained that in today’s world, many of the children caregivers are coming from homes where both spouses (caregivers) are working full-time. In the past, that wasn’t always the case, which helped with some of the workload. Combine this with how people are living much longer today, and the caregiving period itself has been extended many years.

“People are living longer than they ever have. But that doesn’t mean they are living healthier,” which is where the caregiving role comes in, explains Bursack.

With less time to manage all the caregiving duties, and a longer time frame where caregiving might take place with parents, it’s crucial for caregivers to proactively seek as much help as possible—from technology to support groups to additional care help.

“As caregivers, we have to allow parents to do as much as they are capable of doing so that they can retain their self-respect and dignity,” says Bursack.

“…But we have to gently help them along, sometimes in a quiet manner, so that they can get the care they need. We don’t want them to lose their sense of self, but that means caregivers have to learn to find a balance.”

Interested in seeing how MedaCheck can help caregivers find greater peace of mind, and help parents age with dignity? Visit www.medacheck.com.

About Carol Bradley Bursack

Over the span of two decades author, columnist and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members. Because of this experience, Bradley Bursack created a portable support group – the book “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories.” Her sites, www.mindingourelders.com and www.mindingoureldersblogs.com include helpful resources as well as links to direct support. Bradley Bursack is a newspaper columnist and an eldercare consultant who also writes on caregiving and senior issues for several national websites.