Caregivers come from every walk of life, every economic spectrum. Aging spouses caring for partners. Children of aging parents. Parents caring for disabled adult children. Family members working to make sure other members are OK. There are even juvenile caregivers caring for aging or disabled parents. Where you are on the journey called Caregiving is not so important. What is important is realizing where you are going. “All Caregiving has an end.”
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of providing care for a loved one is developing the emotional honesty to accept the realities of the situation. These realities include practical areas of financial needs and resource; availability of assistance from family members or friends; geographical restrictions; physical disabilities and often emotional or cognitive deficits.
Many Caregivers approach caregiving with an attitude of rehabilitation rather than accommodation. While it is great to work on physical therapy and cognitive exercise, the focus of that work should be, in my opinion, enabling our loved ones to maintain as comfortable a lifestyle as is possible. This will mean providing accommodations that make the day-to-day tasks of life more manageable.
It is important for each of us, as caregivers to consider how we interact with our loved ones when it comes to questions that can impact quality and longevity. We need to learn how to guide a discussion, not hold a lecture or have an argument. When you are faced with decisions that need to be made I suggest asking a sequence of questions similar to these –What exactly is it you want to do? (clarify the real issue)
1. If you do (or don’t do) this, what is the likely result? (verbalizing an understanding of this will help identify a real capacity for understanding the consequences of actions – a key to determining cognitive capacity)
2. Who will be impacted by the result of this decision? Does that matter? Do you need their agreement in order for you to make a decision?
3. If you lose the ability to tell me what to do, for some reason or as a result of this decision, what exactly do you want ME to do?
4. Are you really OK with this decision?
These questions will help move us away from OUR points of view, desires, beliefs, and focus on our loved one’s wants and needs. We have the responsibility to provide care – comfort. Working toward that goal helps to relieve us of feeling personally responsible for every aspect of life. When we include our loved ones in the process of providing care, it can be surprising how manageable things can become.
Understanding and accepting the process of aging enables us, as Caregiver, to provide a more compassionate, more comforting level of care. It will be Care that is focused on making life the best it can be, within the resources available. Rather than trying to cure aging, it is better to understand that the length of a life is less important as the quality of that life.
(Excerpted from the ebook “You Can’t Cure Aging” by Gary A. Powell* – The Caregiver Foundation ©2014)
The Caregiver Foundation is a Hawai’I based non-profit organization serving the emotional and practical needs of Seniors, Disabled Adults AND their Caregivers. The Foundation supports the establishment of Community Caregiver support Groups, provides educational workshops and lectures throughout Hawai’i. the Pacific and West Coast and is a highly respected source of quality services ranging from
- Daily money management (bill paying services)
- Care Coordination
- Placement Services
- Family Caregiver Planning
- VA and Social Security Rep Payee Services
- Conservatorship, Guardianship and Trustee Administration Services
- And its unique “standby” personal representation suite of services
The Caregiver Foundation can be reached by telephone at 808-625-3782; by email to [email protected]; or our web page at www.thecaregiverfoundation.org. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, Twitter, you Tube and Linked In and sign up for special announcements and releases about Caregiving, Aging and The Caregiver Foundation.
Founder & Executive Director Gary A. Powell became a caregiver to his grandfather when he was only a teenager. In an effort to formalize his long-time work in assisting, supporting, and educating seniors and their families on caregiving and care needs, he established The Caregiver Foundation on Oahu in 2008. The organization now assists over 120 fee-for-service clients on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and the Big Island. The Caregiver Foundation is a Hawaii-based, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide practical and emotional support to Seniors, Disabled Adults and their Caregivers. Our vision is to be recognized as a vital partner in the work of family caregiving; an example of professionalism, integrity and compassion; and a secure and dependable resource, first in Hawaii and then throughout the United States of America.