Monday, May 16, 2011

What Every Caregiver Must Know - By Author Davis Aujourd hui

Life is a continual process of change. As you grow into your middle years, there comes a time when there may be a role reversal with your parents. As a young child, they were your caregiver. Now, it may become the time when you will be theirs.

As a retired social worker, I have witnessed this countless times. I am also at an age when my own parents have become elderly. This may well be a challenge for me in my future. If this time has arrived for you, you are already dealing with the challenge.

You should consider the least restrictive form of help. You will want to keep them as independent as possible. Ideally, this would mean to keep them in their own home for as long as you are able to keep them safe.

Supportive services can be brought into their home if that is affordable. There are a number of resources available in every community: social service agencies, home health aides, independent cleaning people, visiting nurses, etc. If you are unable to help with things like medical transportation and shopping, there may be private alternatives for this as well.

There are some simple things that you can do. These would include things like pre-pouring their medications and assisting them with their finances. Try to always help them make their own decisions if they are able to do so. No one appreciates interference.

The time may come when they will need more support. Assisted living programs are an excellent way for them to maintain a degree of independence. This may not be financially feasible for many. Now, the decision is whether or not you are able to care for them in your own home.

This is a big decision. Consider it carefully and do not allow guilt to cause you to do something with which you are uncomfortable. Remember, it is of the utmost importance that you take care of yourself too. It will become a dramatic change to your lifestyle. It will involve sacrifices that will hopefully come from a loving place rather than a sense of obligation.

If that time has already come for you, you will appreciate what I have been saying. Allow your parents to do what they can for themselves. Nobody wants to be treated like a child. All adults are worthy of respect. Most importantly, you will want to offer love.

In order to do this, it is imperative that you be willing to reach out for help. You do not want to bear the entire burden. Again, you can consider bringing in services

Here are some tips you may find helpful:

• Ask a friend or neighbor to come to visit so that you are able to do things for yourself. You will be of no good to your parents if you are making sacrifices that interfere with your ability to take care of yourself.

• Take time out so that you can pursue your own interests. Otherwise, you may become consumed with resentment. Do not allow this to happen. Just remember that you are only human. Just as your parents have needs, so do you. There may come a day when you will realize that you can no longer bear the burden of providing care. That is not your fault. It is a reality that many of you will come to face as your parents’ needs become all-consuming. This will become the time that you will need to consider nursing home placement. Do not allow guilt to consume you. Difficult as it may be, talk it over with your parents. Let them know that you love them, but that they need more help than you are able to provide.

• If you have to place your parents, take time so that you can find a nursing home that is the best fit. Do your research carefully. All nursing homes are rated. Some of them are not fit for any human being. Interview and tour the homes. Talk with residents to see how they like the homes.

• Do not put yourself into a place where you must rush to make a decision. The best-rated homes will take the longest amount of time whereby a placement can be achieved. Don’t wait until you are desperate. Be realistic and plan ahead.

• Once a placement has been achieved, be sure to make frequent visits. This will serve two primary purposes. Naturally, your parents will need and appreciate your love and support. It will also let the staff at the home know that you are involved. Some nursing homes can be neglectful of residents’ needs if family is not a presence.

• No matter what your situation is, affirm for yourself that you have done the best you have been able to do. Have no regrets. This will only lead to guilt. Just remember to love yourself as well as your parents.

About the author:

Davis Aujourd’hui is the creator of the highly-rated and hilarious Sister Mary Olga Fortitude – a series of nine books centered on religious and social satire. He is a retired social worker, having worked for Adult Protective Services in New York. He said it enabled him to become a student of the human condition. While doing so, he developed the characters in his books in order to entertain a colleague of his using the gift of humor. He says being socially-minded and spiritual are is the most important ingredients for him to maintain a happy and successful life. He lives in Upstate New York.

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