Caregiving for Elderly ParentsJul 21st, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Dr Jerry Elrod's Senior Moments Blog
A daily discipline is staying in touch with Mom. She is 91, lives in assisted care, sometimes stays close to her room and doesn’t venture afar. Persons who are in their 90′s need the protective assurance and reinforcing companionship of persons who care, look after them, and check on them with frequency.
Persons, i.e. family members who live nearby, are fortunate. Having the opportunity to drop in on unannounced occasions is a good way to be sure a loved one is receiving adequate, personal and consistent care. Usually, in any facility, it is the squeaking wheel that gets the most attention. That is surely true in care facilities. Although that can backfire. Too many demands, too much need for care may prompt less attention than more.
Mom is an independent soul. She prefers to do everything she can for herself. That can be both good and bad. While encouraging an independent spirit and independent activity, it is also wise to determine when boundaries are important. Some, in their 90′s continue to live at home, drive, shop, take care of themselves quite well. That , of course, is more the exception than the rule. And, even these persons need to be checked on with regularity. Aging brings with it too many surprises. It is better to err on the side of too much attention than not enough.
Deciding where the lines are and how they should be drawn is a continuing requirement. Abilities, once taken for granted, may begin to experience challenge. Making sure that issues of balance, cognitive awareness of things like managing medications, cleanliness and diet need to be observed consistently.
Allowing anyone over septuagenarian status to be in complete charge of their lives may be generous and kind, on the face of it, but may create the very circumstance where personal management needs some support.
For example, if choosing to allow an older person to continue driving may seem kindly, it also may create the very scenario for a major catastrophe. No one really wants to risk that.
Staying in touch is a way to limit loneliness. Demonstrating caring behavior does not have to mean overly imposing on the older person’s need to continue to experience some independence and caring for themselves. Walking this rope may require very sensitive and alert behaviors, but likely it will enable both parties to be in a place that feels good and appropriate.