Gift Idea for Aging Parents: The Old Neighborhood Reunion

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  • Posted on Jul. 22nd, 2014

By Joy Loverde

Picture234If you are a regular reader of my blogs then you may have read about the time when my sister and I took our Mom back to Italy to visit the town where she was born (Marlia). That was a trip of a lifetime!  In case you missed it, here is the blog: http://eldercareabcblog.com/joy-loverde-vacation-suggestion-trip-of-a-lifetime/

Last month, my sister and I stepped it up a notch and we did something similar back in the States. We took Mom back to her old neighborhood where she was a young wife and mother, raising five children (me and my siblings).  We arranged a lunch for Mom and her friends as well as our childhood friends. Together again after 40 years!

Back in the 50s and 60’s in Mom’s old neighborhood there were ten couples (20 adults) and 22 children.  We lived on one long street in a suburb of Chicago called Melrose Park. On a typical day, adults and children were in and out of each other’s homes. Doors were never lock during the day. We children went to school together. Parents partied together. We had birthday parties. We played baseball in the street all summer long. Our parents never worried about us. We never strayed far. The old neighborhood was one big family sharing the ups and downs of life.

xxxArranging the lunch took one year; but the day finally arrived. We met at a local restaurant in the old neighborhood.  Two adults (Mom and Sue) and seven children gathered together to share memories good and bad. At this writing only three adults are living — Mom, Sue, and Loretta (who could not join us for the lunch). Many of us brought photographs of times gone by. We toasted those who are no longer with us. It was a bittersweet experience.

I wish I had thought of this idea sooner and I sincerely hope you take the time to make this happen for your parents.

Until next time.

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Mom Always Liked You Best – Part Two

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  • Posted on Jul. 4th, 2014

canstockphoto16057650By Joy Loverde

Part One of “Mom Always Liked You Best” offered insights on what may be going on behind the scene when siblings do not help with aging parents. As you may have learned, parents and siblings are equal partners in setting the stage for this situation.

This blog helps you take action.  I urge you to review the Communicaring chapter in my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner before you initiate conversations with siblings. You’ll be better prepared to respond when/if they initially refuse to lend a hand.

The first step in the process is for you to look inward and assess whether or not you are part of the problem. This is not easy because you may be the very reason siblings are not being helpful. Take a deep breath and ask yourself the following questions:

  • When I speak with my siblings am I asking for help or am I hinting around and complaining?
  • Am I reluctant to share my parent’s attention with siblings?
  • Am I out to prove once and for all that I am the good and always-giving favorite child?
  • Do I believe that nobody can do the task at hand better than me?
  • Am I so tired that I think it takes too much time to explain what is needed and so I say nothing?
  • Do I believe that family caregiving is “woman’s work?”
  • Do I not have any energy left to argue with siblings?

Did you see yourself in any of these situations?

Whether you believe it or not, the time is now to delegate eldercare responsibilities. Or, let me put it this way… if you do not ask for help from siblings (and others) you may not survive this family responsibility. No one can do this alone.

Here are a few tips from The Complete Eldercare Planner to encourage siblings to pitch in. Try several, or just one, but just do something:

Speak up.

Are you assuming your siblings know what’s going on and why you need their help? They may have no idea or understanding of the gravity of a particular situation. Be specific and share details.

Fill the distance gap.

Chances are siblings who live far away don’t know how to help. Be specific. Ask them to: call your parents on a regular basis; do research on options and services; make service arrangements; send money as a way of being helpful; suggest that parents stay with them.

Consult your siblings.

When important parent-care decisions need to be made do not accept, “You do what’s best” as an answer. The decision-making burden is not entirely yours. Ask for specific involvement on your siblings’ part. Instead of saying, “What should we do?” try, “Do you think we should hire a home care nurse or look into an assisted-living facility?”

Call their bluff.

When siblings criticize you, don’t argue or defend your position about how you’re handling parent-care. When they say, “You should take Mom to the doctor more often,” agree with them (that lets the air out of their argument) and say, “You may be right, and much better at this than me. Why don’t you take over this responsibility?”

Stay flexible.

If siblings do agree to help, keep in mind that there is more than one approach to handling the eldercare situation. People are unique, and bring to the caregiving situation different life experiences, values, abilities, preferences, and relationships. When your siblings do things differently from you, let them do it their way. From time-to-time, give some of their suggestions a try, and let them know when things work for the better.

Stay on them.

When siblings drop the ball, get on the phone immediately and say, “Three weeks ago we agreed that you would help Dad with his laundry, and you have not done so. What will help you keep this commitment?” Make them as accountable as you.

 

For more family caregiving and eldercare communication tips, be sure to visit my website: www.elderindustry.com.

Until next time.

 

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Mom Always Liked You Best – Part One

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  • Posted on Jun. 18th, 2014

Mom always liked you bestBy Joy Loverde

Family caregivers often write to me and complain that when it comes to eldercare and parents, siblings are often nowhere to be found. Denial, historical sibling rivalry, limited finances, and living far away are some of the reasons why one adult child shoulders most of the parent-care responsibilities.

Truth is family caregiving tasks are rarely distributed equally or fairly among family members.

If siblings are not helping you; then listen up. This two-part blog will attempt to explain what’s going on behind the scenes and help you take action as best you can.

Start the process by considering the role your parents may be playing in this scenario. They are NOT innocent bystanders by any means and are part of the reason why you are doing all the caregiving work.

Can you relate to any of these circumstances?

  • Parent continuously expects you to care for them.
  • Parent barks orders at you and you alone.
  • Parent views eldercare as “woman’s work” and lets sons off the hook.
  • Parent plays favorites and you’re it.

Hmmmmm. No wonder you’re at wits end!

Now consider the mindset of your brothers and sisters. Can you relate to any of the following situations?

  • Sibling feels that “Mom always liked you best” and uses it as an excuse.
  • Sibling denies parent-care is needed and chooses to ignore the situation.
  • Sibling lives far away.
  • Sibling has major problems and is incapable of being helpful at this time.
  • Sibling is getting back at you for any number of reasons.
  • Sibling cannot psychologically handle a parent’s decline and death.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this blog where I will offer tips from my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner.  In the meantime, visit my website for additional family caregiver articles and suggestions — www.elderindustry.com.

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Are You Looking for Simple Aging in Place Options For Elderly Parents?

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  • Posted on Jun. 17th, 2014

Door knob with deadbolt and lever for easier aging in place optionBy Kaye Swain

Door handles. Simple things. You wouldn’t think they’d be that important, would you? Unless your elderly mom has limited range of motion in her hands due to arthritis or in her arm due to taking a tumble or just in general due to growing weaker as she ages. My family has dealt with all those issues and more. Perhaps you have too.

When an elderly senior has any of those issues, a traditional door knob can actually be very difficult to open. The twisting and the turning can create exquisite pain for some. For others, it may not hurt but they just can’t manage it very well. It’s frustrating and even can be a bit embarrassing for them as it points out, once again, that they are getting older and can’t do the things they used to do with ease.

One simple help we can provide them in their homes or if they are living in their own homes is swap out any hard-to-maneuver door knobs for easier lever door knobs that are highly recommended as good for aging in place options.

With levers, they only have to push down (or up). No twisting or turning is required on their parts. And voila, the door opens easily and they get to retain some of their treasured independence.

When you are caring for elderly parents at home or with you, providing simple aging in place options like lever door knobs (these are available for inside and outside doors) can be a big morale boost and physical help for them, make life easier for you, and can even be useful for other family members as well. Talk about a win-win-win.

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Moving a Reluctant Parent – Part 15

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  • Posted on Jun. 5th, 2014

by Joy Loverde

To those of you who are following this blog about my Aunt who is reluctant to move out of her house, I didn’t want too much time to go by before I gave you an update on what’s happening.

On that note, what’s happening is absolutely nothing.

There she stays… in spite of the coldest Chicago winter ever. She took it upon herself to get out the snow blower and clear the driveway – and she fell. With no cell phone on hand, she waited until someone saw her to help her get up. She could have frozen to death or worse.

There she stays… in spite of mounting health issues. A knee replacement is now on the horizon.

There she stays… in spite of the fact that houses in her neighborhood are selling fast and this endless money pit could be behind her in a matter of weeks.

Yesterday over the phone My Aunt says that she comes from a long line of stubborn people. She explains that her brother and sister (they are in their late 80’s) both live in their own houses and so she must do the same; then she laughs. I sense this is a nervous laugh. I say nothing.

Clinging to one’s comfort zone is an interesting process. In my Aunt’s case, she has lived a life of fear and worry all her life. I know this from having spent my entire life observing and listening to her decision-making process. Fear and worry feel natural to her. I get it. I accept it. I love her anyway. Groundless fear (not based on facts) IS her comfort zone.  Importantly, to challenge this thought process of hers would be the end of our talking. My Aunt would cut me off.

On the same phone call, there was a little ray of hope… my Aunt asked me and my husband to stop by to talk about her finances. I wonder what’s up.

Stay tuned…

 

 

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