By Michael Simpson
At some point in time it happens and I don't think it comes to us as an epiphany but in retrospect we see when it began and of course know where it is now. I am talking about the journey when parents make the transition into aging loved ones and might need in home care.
When adults reach their senior years, they at first joke about it and brag that they got the senior discount at Denny's but as the years roll on the jokes stop and they realize that some major changes have taken place in their financial, physical and social worlds. Their view of their finances have changed from buying mostly what they wanted to now they are on a fixed income and watch carefully their expenses.
The physical world of the aging has gone from playing football with the kids to watching football from the recliner and their social network of friends has greatly diminished due to illness, death and people just not able to get out. They now have vision, hearing and mobility issues and most of their conversations with others revolve around medical issues. And after they retire a large chunk of their self esteem is surgically removed. Men more then women are defined by their job, it is what they do, it is who they are and when introduced to someone new it is only a matter of seconds before they announce that they are the general manager for Ajax Construction.
The children of aging parents will also experience a role reversal and the children might have to take over handling financial issues for the parent as well as driving them to various appointments. This can be not only uncomfortable for both parties but the adult children's anxiety level will raise when they realize how vulnerable their parents have become. But this vulnerability does not mean an immediate move to a higher care facility. Seniors want to maintain their independence and this sometimes is in direct conflict with the adult children who want their parent to be safe and secure.
Adult children can do several things to help in this transition.
- Decisions - Don't leave the senior out of the decision making process. Have family meetings to discuss issues such as getting a caregiver to come in for a few hours a week. Some of our clients lives revolve around food because that is the only area of their life that they feel they have any control over. Keep them engaged in the family.
- Fill their time - Not with mind numbing television but if they are physically and mentally active learning a new hobby then this slows the aging process and can keep their cognitive skills from deteriorating. Seniors are seniors and they are not stupid and they are capable of learning a musical instrument or computer games.
- Spiritual growth - Now might be the time for them to explore a new religion or rediscover an old one. Many medium to larger churches, synagogues, and mosques have senior programs that include exercise, teaching on religious issues and companionship. Here again if the adult children cannot provide transportation there are many home care agencies who could take care of it.
Our seniors are truly a national resource and have many grand life stories to tell if only someone would stop and listen. Adult children have unbelievably busy lives but if they can only slow down a little and assist their parents with this transition then it will be more fulfilling for all concerned.
Michael Simpson is Director of Visiting Angels in NW Phoenix. They are a home care company providing non-medical in home care for seniors allowing them to stay in their home without going to a assisted living facility. Simpson is in direct daily contact with his caregivers and care recipients and is close to the issues and problems that seniors have to deal with. Their phone number is 623-266-9304 and the website is http://www.azangelcare.com and can also be found on Facebook at http://facebook.com/azseniorcare
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