Caregiving for a loved one needs planning, teamwork
April 1, 2021 | View PDF
Question: My mom received both dosages of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and I recently traveled home to visit her. While there I noticed she was having trouble doing tasks she used to do with ease. Living so far away, how can I support her growing needs, yet be respectful of still wanting her independence?
Answer: Seeing a parent getting older can be a new and emotional experience and understanding that our population is generally living longer puts into sharp focus the emerging needs of older adults. By 2030 seventy million Americans will be over the age of 65, according ot the U.S. Census Bureau.
The first step is for your mother and family members to have a group discussion about preferences for her care. It’s better to understand and contemplate your mom’s choices before a crisis occurs. Fears of losing independence or control will generally stir up resistance. Holding an exchange now of options surrounding health, finances, driving capabilities or end-of-life care are uncomfortable, but best talked about in a fair manner by both parent and adult children.
Issues considered without urgency before a crisis erupts set the foundation for a plan when action steps are required. Does your mother want to stay in her home as she ages? Now that you see she needs help, how does your mom feel about that? Would she still want to stay put or make a move to a facility that could provide more assistance? Has she planned ahead for these expenditures?
Research the options in her community such as neighbors checking in on her, in-home care, adult day programs or resources through the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. If her living space is still safe to remain in, there are home modifications and funding opportunities available to make her place of residence better suited to meet the changing needs in preventing falls, sustaining independence and support caregiving.
By providing collaborative care for your mother, you can work toward helping her live with dignity and choice for as long as possible. With all of us joining together, we can provide the health, wellness, physical and social support needed for older Americans to live a high quality of life as they age.
Karen Casanovas is a Professional Certified Coach who oversees a private practice specializing in aging and health. She’s a Fellow with the Institute of Coaching and former member of the Anchorage Senior Citizens Advisory Commission. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.