Let’s reconsider how we care for aging loved ones”
True story: An executive makes a phone call to check on mom prior to attending an important meeting. There is no answer. After repeated calls, there is still no answer. Immediately assuming there must be an emergency, the executive leaves the meeting place and arrives home to learn that mom had just removed her hearing aid!
Sound familiar? You bet it does.
In the early 1990s, my family members and I faced the dilemma of trying to maintain professional careers, care for our immediate families, and meet the increasing needs of our elderly aunts who both required regular personal care assistance as well as emotional and financial support. It was challenging and often exhausting. We were ill-equipped.
Today, thankfully, many options are available to aging parents and their adult children. Private sector in-home care services and innovative projects in faith communities are making an enormous difference to individual families who are trying to “figure it out.”
However, while there are now more resources available, I believe that there is still a great need to adjust our thinking about aging.
Aging is not a punishment for living; it is evidence that we have lived. It is another — often extraordinary — time in the life of our parents and loved ones. That said, I don’t dismiss the overwhelming challenges of caring for an older person. Based on three decades of personal experiences in caring for older family members, one conclusion is obvious. It will often seem that your best is just not good enough and you will feel guilty.
Creative ideas needed
There are many statistics and reports about aging and elder care and its impact on the workplace, social organizations, the nation’s financial and healthcare resources, and the family. However, a new conversation is now underway. The baby boomer generation is demanding answers to questions about healthy aging, what being older really means in lifestyle changes, and new care alternatives.
This country has no shortage of creative and energetic problem solvers who will can find solutions to the challenges of getting older. Some physicians are reviving the old practice of making “house calls” to their patients. Seniors are devising communal living arrangements to meet their mutual physical, financial and social needs. One more brief example:
Take a look at the aisles of the local grocery store. Seniors can select personal care products in multi-color packages with a wide assortment of choices in design, function and size.
Baby boomers have always wanted choices. The traditional patterns and methods of caring for them as they age will not be acceptable. Consider all the options and resources that are available in 2012 that did not exist 20 years ago. Those options and resources are going to have to multiple significantly again within the next 10 years.
As we develop new options and resources for the care of the aging, let’s remember to make the most important choice – the choice to celebrate and respect life in its final stage.
Parents are good about minimizing or concealing the struggles they may be encountering as they age. If you live far away from the, it’s often difficult to determine if they are truly doing well, despite what they may say.
This is why I recommend visiting them for longer periods of time, in order to evaluate several areas of daily living activities that might indicate what type of assistance they may or may not need.
- Are your parents in good health and enjoying themselves?
- Are they dealing with medication issues and able to keep prescriptions in order and take them as directed?
- Are the refrigerator and pantry well stocked with a variety fresh items?
- Are leftover foods put away properly?
- Is the kitchen, including cabinets and appliances, properly cleaned and maintained?
- Can your parents get their mail and newspapers each day?
- Are there notices for late payments or no payments that you can see or that they might discuss with you during your visit?
- Is the checkbook reconciled and bank account in order?
- How is their ability to maintain good personal hygiene?
- Are they comfortable using the shower or bath tub?
- Is clothing in order and do they have a well groomed appearance?
If you have concerns with one or more of these items, it is time to call Family Staffing Solutions, Inc or another personal care assistance company in your area (we have offices in Tennessee, Texas, and Indiana).
We, and other companies like ours, provide personal assistance care and specialize in the kinds of support you want for your parents. Since you cannot be with them all the time, we make sure someone is, should something unexpected happen. Remember: Making sure your parent(s) routine is running smoothly not only relieves their stress, but provides you with peace of mind.
As I mentioned in my first post on putting together your “tool kit”, smart business owners are always looking for new ways to coddle customers and expand their business growth.
As a caregiver working for a company, privately working with a family, or as the adult child caregiver for a family member, my suggestion is repack your “tool kit”, and plan to do exactly the same thing businesses do.
Acquiring these new tools will help you more effectively connect or coddle the person for whom you provide care. Equally as important, they can help you grow as a person and expand your opportunities to value your work and yourself. Continue reading