Anyone who has dealt with caregiving, whether a professional, as with Sue Collins, RN, co-author of the award-winning book, OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing, $16) or a non-professional, has most likely experienced some kind of disagreement about the best way to go about it. Siblings, who nearly always also carry around a collection of well-worn emotional baggage, are particularly vulnerable to (and adept at) disagreements over caring for an aging parent, for example. Finances often play a part as do the imagined wishes of the parent (which is why it is so important to get the paperwork in order while everyone is still firing on all cylinders), and finally, who’s in charge. Add the stress of the holidays and you have a recipe for a family brawl.
For an accessible, common-sense solutions to these kinds of caregiving challenges wrapped up in a convenient form that you can gift to recalcitrant siblings, get the book: OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters. amazon.com
If you live a distance from your loved one and rarely actually see their living space, the holidays are a good opportunity to check up on them. Or, if you see them often, and have grown inured to the very gradual decline, now’s a good time to take a careful look around. There are clues to how well they are doing — are there dishes piled in the sink where there used to be none? (Or where they were at least washed and stacked in the drainboard?) Is the laundry piling up? Is there more clutter, which can make getting around the house unnecessarily hazardous (especially if balance is becoming an issue)? Is there incremental creep toward their doing little or nothing? All are clues to your loved one’s wellbeing and their ability to care for themselves. They may also be clues to their state of mind — depression can look like slovenliness. Either way, visiting during the holidays is an opportunity to note the clues your loved one may be inadvertently leaving to their ability to care for themselves and to their state of mind. Snooping lovingly will let you know. Read more:
When my father, who had a brain tumor and who was fiercely independent, slowly grew to be unreliable in the handling of his bills, etc., I worried about trying to strong-arm him into letting go of their management. A friend said to me, in a reference to the biblical ‘Honor the father and thy mother,’ etc.: “You ARE honoring him by taking care of things, even if he doesn’t understand that at this point. It helped a lot. And, he allowed me to do that after a little negotiation, which relieved us both.
For the adult children of a parent with Alzheimer’s who needs in-home care, there are tricks to it. Gary Barg, Editor-in-Chief of Today’s Caregiver magazine, offers a great example of how to help a loved one who has been highly functioning but who now needs help, accept that help. How you characterize it matters!
It’s sometimes very difficult to step back into a family when you’ve purposely separated yourself from them. When aging parents need help caring for themselves, but the relationship with them has been fraught and you or your siblings face making decisions when what you really want to do is hide from the whole thing to protect yourself, you have a few choices. OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing) offers succinct, practical suggestions for approaching this dilemma. The article ( link below) in caregiver.com offers much the same approach — helpful and practical without sidestepping the difficulties. It’s never easy, but remember: you’re not alone.
See the eight practical guidelines offered in the article.
A new study has found that teenagers want — and do better with — their parents just being around. Not necessarily always interacting with them, but just being there and available.’Potted Plant Parents’. I’ve posted this NY Times link because I think it’s true in all kinds of ways — being present with other human beings is really what we need. We don’t necessarily need advice, conversation, non-stop guidance. Our being there is you making a statement that you are available. And care. That’s quiet love.