I have been talking to friends who have had the honour of caregiving for a loved one. We have brainstormed things we think would have made our journey easier and came up with ten questions to think about.
Even my mom at 92 would say “I still feel the same inside… until I look in the mirror or try to move!” We would laugh about this and yet now I totally understand.
So it doesn’t surprise me so many people put off these types of discussions because we all think we still have time……As we age we know that a fall, a stroke or serious accident can change our life in a moment. Don’t wait. Do it now! Be prepared if you want to save yourself, your partner or those who will want to care for you heartache and angst.
I will share a few each day in subsequent blogs. I hope it will start you thinking and doing some early planning.
Appoint a ‘truth teller’ who will honestly advise you about your present condition; your truth teller helps you see what you can’t or won’t acknowledge. It’s important that this person will note your physical, emotional and intellectual changes. Make sure you have clearly articulated that you want your truth teller to have difficult, honest conversations with you. Your partner or someone your age is not a good choice. I think we all know stories of one spouse or good friend ‘covering up’ for another and when a crisis occurs everyone is shocked at how fragile one partner is and how much the other one was covering……. From the age of about 60 my dad and mom began to say to my brother and I that we were to tell them when we thought they were no longer able to care for themselves in their home or drive. They would often tell us this. We both thought it was rather early and yet when the time came it was a relief to know we had their permission, even when they seemed surprised by our comments or even angry. We were reassured it was what they wanted.
2. Consciously build community. Willingly participate in groups; be social; plan opportunities to talk to others; get yourself out most days even if it is just for coffee or to people watch. Social isolation is a huge factor in mental decline while aging. Know why you get up every morning – what is your daily purpose? human interaction is as necessary as food, water and exercise. Plan something every day. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t make others responsible for your entertainment. Often this falls on your caregivers and they feel it is yet another responsibility. My mom would often say she was so bored or wished she could drive and I always felt guilty and thought I should think of something to help her or go out and drive her somewhere. This was a case of her not wanting to spend money on a taxi or take a bus. I’m already talking to myself saying that when I no longer feel safe driving or the kids tell me to give up my car I will do my best to remain self-reliant. And if I have reached a dementia-stage they have my permission to ignore my commentsand not feel guilty. They will remember I’m “just not myself.“
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Tomorrow school begins for many Canadian students. It always makes me think of new beginnings.
What are you beginning today? I thought today is the perfect time to launch my BLOG….. Rewire Before You Expire….a blog that I hope will help baby boomers think about aging.
Over the winter I took a course on Memoir Writing. It inspired me to begin writing again. Besides cooking, baking and reading, I find joy when writing.
While a memoir isn’t in the cards for me, I would like to write another book about aging. Everything we read today is full of warnings about the plethora of aging baby boomers. We’ve been an action-oriented generation. Let’s not let aging just happen. Let’s think about what we need and then how we can achieve it.
What will happen to us as services dry up and costs skyrocket? None of us want to be a burden to our children. What can we do?
First we have to educate ourselves. It’s time to think about uncomfortable topics and make plans. If you’ve been as blessed as my husband and I who had parents in our lives for over 60 years we have plenty of background information.
How can we apply that to our situation? That’s what I have been pondering for the past year. I have spoken to caregivers and read countless books and research pieces. Now it’s time to put the fingers to the keys and begin.
I hope you will join me and enjoy the journey!
Please excuse the mix-ups as I am learning the technology associated with the BLOG…. I like to challenge myself and this has certainly done that!
I didn’t write for six years. My parents and my husband’s parents would be shocked and then heartbroken to think they had caused my caregiver burnout.
I don’t blame them. I was responsible. I wanted to support them. They had been great parents for us.
For 37 years I was the front-line family caregiver. Bob’s parents left this world in 2009 and 2011; my dad passed away in 2015; and when my mom passed away in 2017 I was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted.
My supportive husband and brother lightened th load. We were not financially burdened, as is the case with many family caregivers. As the writer and editor of a provincial family caregiver newsletter I was aware of resources, programs and assistance.
What I discovered though, despite community supports, my responsibilities became that of a full-time patient coordinator. Our medical system was complicated and there was no such thing as one-stop shopping.
Friends started to ask for advice when they began their caregiving experience. I directed them to the proper resources, pointed out programs they might not be aware of and provided much needed empathy for their journey.
Consciously I added “Let this experience make you think about how you age. What can you do to make the caregiving journey easier for your children or designated caregivers?”
I’d also caution caregivers to not just step in and help. Was there better ways to support, without taking away control?
Governments are spending huge dollars for care of seniors. Do we need to think differently about what aging baby boomers need?
It is my hope that this blog causes you to think about the way you age and to consider some tough questions and then take plans.
I have been an author, communications consultant, professional speaker, and communications coach for over 30 years. As a popular weekly newspaper columnist I understand the value of building relationships.
Happily married, most days, for over 4o years, I’m blessed to have grown children and five grandchildren.
Being able to support our four parents as they aged has been significant in my life choices as I age.
We down-sized, from a large two story home to a small high-rise condo when I was 61 and purchased a trailer in Palm Springs, where we enjoy our winters.
Lately I have been researching and thinking about how we age as baby boomers. I’ve talked to many seniors, healthcare professionals and caregivers. Now I want to pass along a few tips add tricks I’ve gleaned over the past 37 years as a family caregiver.