As you watch your parents or other beloved elders age, you worry. Should they have housing upgrades? Can they continue to live independently? Your intention isn’t to take over their lives but you genuinely want to start the conversation about possible future changes. How do you do this without causing a backlash?
Whatever the reason that caregiving begins, I hear from a number of young adults who are trying to care for one or more grandparents. Most of them love their grandparent dearly, but they often come up against obstacles that are quite overwhelming for people so young. One young woman recently wrote about the problem of getting health information about her grandfather, because the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws won't allow her to do so without the proper paperwork, and her grandfather doesn't see the need to have this youngster involved in his clinical care. The problem is that the grandfather doesn't understand that no other family member is available to help him.
Whether we are taking an elderly person to a family reunion or a backyard picnic this summer, we need to be aware that summer heat can become deadly as people age. From less efficient cooling systems to more illnesses and medications, elders have many issues that can make them vulnerable to extreme temperatures. Don’t let the heat stop you from taking your elder out for some fun, but prevent problems by finding a shady place for your loved one to sit and check frequently to see if he or she is comfortable.
If you are one of the millions of adult children who worry about your aging parents, National Healthcare Decisions Day, which is April 16th, could be a very important day for your family. National Healthcare Decisions Day is set aside to spread awareness about the need for everyone to appoint a healthcare representative.
According to Pew Research on end-of-life treatment, the growth in the number of people who say that they have a health directive went up 17 points between 1990 and 2005 - from 12% in 1990 to 29% now. Likely, today the number is much higher. However there are still far too many people without a healthcare directive.
...Most people with dementia will decline slowly, giving loved ones time to adjust. However, no time frame makes accepting dementia easy.Whether the grandparents live with the family, in their own home or in a nursing home, the grandchildren are bound to be affected by the changes they see. Children often feel guilty for bad things happeningin the family, even when there is no logic to their thinking. They will notice your pain and may also feel guilty for that, as well.
Twenty-five years ago, my aunt and uncle moved from the Washington, D.C. area to be with my family here on the Great Plains. One of the few complaints that I heard from my aunt about the move was that when she went to their new bank, the tellers called her by her first name. To someone of her generation, a younger person should have been calling her “Mrs. Kelly.” Yes, she understood their intent and she now lived in a more open, friendlier community than before, but she felt that first names lacked dignity. Additionally, while she was obviously aging, her mind was quick and her memory accurate. All she wanted was a little respect.
People who read my work on a regular basis know that I am grateful to hospice for the care of both of my parents. Without the skilled, compassionate care of the hospice staff, both of my parents would have suffered far more than they did. As it was, they’d both had long, slow declines. Pain had become the focus of their lives even though they received excellent care in the nursing home. First Dad, and eventually Mom, qualified for hospice care because they were considered terminally ill with less than six months to live. I filled out the paperwork for each of them and, yes, doing so was painful for me. But not having hospice there to take care of their end-of-life needs was unthinkable.
Forgiveness, or the lack there of, can loom large in the life of a caregiver. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. That is rule number one for people to remember when they are working toward crafting better relationships with family members and others whom they care about. Forgiveness can have enormous benefits for the health of the person who does the forgiving. Considering that negative thinking can be disastrous to your own health, you may want to work toward the positive habit of forgiveness. Here are some people that you may need to forgive and some reasons why you should.
Dear Carol: My grandmother died suddenly leaving my grandfather, who has middle stage Alzheimer’s, more confused than ever. I’ve been arguing with my parents about how to handle his repeated questions about where my grandmother is. Both of my parents feel that they need to keep telling him that she died because that’s the truth. I know they mean well, but it seems as if his pain is fresh each time and I think I've read where you shouldn't tell people with dementia about a death. I’d hate to lie to my grandfather but I don’t know what to do. Is there some rule to go by? Amanda
Like most caregivers, I always wanted to be the "best," yet I knew I fell short. There is no way that I know of to be a perfect caregiver. The needs of any care receiver can change subtly, in a flash. We can miss signals, or just be so tired and stressed we know we can't deliver everything needed, no matter how hard we try. That can bring on a huge case of unearned, caregiver guilt. Most of you have been there.