As our parents get older our relationship often undergoes a sort of role reversal. We become more parent-like while they become more child-like. I’m not just talking about parents plagued with dementia. It happens to some extent for physiological reasons as simple as normal vision and hearing loss and slowed reflexes. For example, many seniors give up driving so that they won’t be a danger to themselves or others because of their slowed reflexes. Others ask for help in hearing and understanding what the doctor has to say or the fine print on a bill or financial statement.
Whether you realize it or not, these are all forms of the early stages of eldercare, and it is just the beginning. What’s more, eldercare is one of the greatest needs our society has and an area in which we are severely lacking in the quality of care available. I say this unapologetically and from a voice of experience. And because of my experience I started thinking outside the box about possible resources and solutions. I am happy to report that my efforts yielded a solution for my situation and have since been able to help many others, as well.
So with that goal in mind, here are some ways you can fulfill your eldercare needs in a way that preserves the dignity of seniors, the closeness of your relationship, and the physical and emotional wear and tear a caregiver can experience. And each idea is cost-effective and efficient, too. NOTE: All of these suggestions are subject to a senior’s particular condition.
- Work it out with your parent and siblings to hire yourself, a sibling, the senior’s adult grandchild, or a trusted friend or extended family member to be the caregiver. As long as integrity rules, it is safer, more economical, and more pleasant for the one being cared for. NOTE: You need to make sure everyone involved is properly trained in basic first-aid and in any special care required.
- Hire a nursing student to care for your senior on a parttime basis. If that student is a family member, fellow church member, etc., all the better!
- Hire a retired nurse or one that is now a stay-at-home mom to come in a couple of times a week to evaluate their condition.
- Set all the bills up on an autopay system to avoid errors. Also, make sure you receive notifications on all financial matters so that your senior is not solely responsible.
- Engage your senior in regular activity. A daily walk, board games, puzzles, and social activities are essential for a positive quality of life.
- Establish a habit and routine of making phone calls two or three times a day to check in. Morning, noon, and bedtime phone calls between you and your senior can be lifesaving.
- Reduce or eliminate their need to use the stove by preparing meals for them, by shopping differently for them, or by enlisting the help of friends and family to share the responsibility of meal prep.
- Ask your senior’s neighbor(s) to report any unusual activity to you.
See? None of these things are difficult, cost-prohibitive, or too time consuming. But all are great ways to provide eldercare your loved one deserves.
By Darla Nobel