I have talked in this two part series about changes you and your older adult can expect, but there is one thing that should not change. Your older adult should continue to feel in charge of their own lives, despite the benefit that they may get from some “leverage.”
Make It Easier. Before kids learn to tie their own shoe laces, they get the benefit of Velcro shoe bindings. These can be a good option for older adults whose manual dexterity may be on the wane as well. And Velcro is not limited to just shoes; you will find jackets and other articles of clothing with Velcro, making life a lot easier for those whose digits are not as nimble as they once were.
It Takes A Village. Mom or dad may want to stay in their lifelong home, but they only mow their own lawn because the last of the teens went off to college leaving them a bit short-handed in the yard work department. It may not be something they look forward to each week during summer, nor is the snow accumulation on the walk such a great experience either. Talk with the parents about what they may still enjoy doing for themselves – for instance, the hands-on gardening and the chores they would not mind delegating. Aside from services that do everything for the yard, you may also find job boards at local community centers or in congregations where volunteers or young kids looking for work. This extends to inside chores such as cooking, laundry and light cleaning as well.
Balancing the Books. You do not want your parents’ credit ratings to suffer because they are not as on top of their bill-paying as they once were. You do not have to be involved in their money matters personally because there are bonded professionals who can help keep your parents’ finances in good shape. Check out our Support Tools page to read more about their association and how to find someone near your parents’ address. Your parents also would benefit from an elder law specialist to advise them in making certain their finances do not create any obstacles to qualifying for Medicaid years down the road when they may need to make the move to long term care.
Caring for the Caregiver. In the midst of all the caring for an older mom or dad, it can be easy to overlook your own needs. It is only too true that you as a caregiver will do a much better job being a care giver if you also take care of yourself. And do not let guilt get in the way of seeking help when you need it or delegating some of the chores when you just cannot do it all alone. You will see a lot of postings here that echo this theme, so browse a bit for some of the resources available to you as a caregiver.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our For The Caregiver page for more information and resources.