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Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please!: How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents

If you’re amongst the millions of baby boomers who is or wll be caring for an aging loved one, the Following  will prove to be an absolutely critical resource:
The Ultimate Caregiver’s Success System

Beyond Driving with DignityThe workbook for the families of older drivers

Knowing you are not alone
can be a great help

Stuck in the Middle: Shared Stories And Tips For Caregiving Your Elderly Parents

Could you use a guide that explains the Assisted Living maze?

Check out Ryan Malone's Book

The By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living: A Step-by-Step Guide to Evaluating and Transitioning to an Assisted Living Community

Carolyn Rosenblatt has authored this great series on senior issues.

The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents: The Complete Guide

David Solie has authored this great book on geriatric and intergenerational communication:

How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders

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Tips for Caregivers: Visiting a Person Who Is Frail

by Margo Rose, Body Aware Grieving

It can be very awkward knowing what to do during a visit with someone who is in frail condition. I know this from experience since once a week I have been going to see my 98 year old friend Mildred who is blind and recovering from a recent fall. Our visits have been very sweet. Here are a few tips that have been helpful for me.

Create a regular schedule as much as possible.

Each Saturday at the same time I either come to see her or phone for a chat. It is a time we can both look forward to and even when I get busy it reminds me to check in at least once a week.

Keep visits short.

When a person is in fragile condition it is hard to predict how much energy they will have. Short, warm visits (perhaps a half hour to hour long) are probably of greater value to someone who is not feeling well.

Find a good “opening line”.

Asking ‘How are you?’ Or ‘What’s new?’ to a person who is suffering from a lot of pain and boredom will not start a conversation off in a good direction. Unless you are actively needing this information to help make medical and other choices on their behalf, look for another way to greet them.

Try starting with a statement like, “It is so nice to see you again!” “I was thinking about you this week.” or “This article (product, food, item of interest) reminded me of you, would you like to learn about it?”

Play to their strengths.

Which of their five senses (sight, taste, hearing, touch, smell) are functioning best?

In Mildred’s case, she is blind and movement is very limited. Her mind though is in perfect condition! Mildred enjoys gentle massage, having a window opened for a fresh breeze, hearing her favorite music and on occasion enjoying fresh fruit from the farmer’s market.

Mildred’s mind is exceptional at any age! She was preparing for her 98th birthday party recently and during one of our visits she asked me to get a piece of paper and pen so I could write down her guest list. Effortlessly, she rattled off the name of each person who was coming, where they were flying in from, and which people were still deciding whether or not to bring a guest. It is easy to compliment and celebrate with her that she is such a smart and capable woman.

The most important tip, is…Let the person you are seeing, lead the visit!

They may prefer to be cheered up and entertained by stories from your life, or discuss whatever is on their mind. If they want to tell stories from their past, or be brought up to date on current events try to participate with them.

Can you help them gain benefits from using modern technology?

Mildred is delighted by all the functions of the Internet and smart phones, but needs help accessing it. We play on my phone constantly during our visits. We look for songs she remembers from her youth, comedy routines to laugh with and interesting bits from the news.

She also asks for me to look up information about her former boyfriends and what they went on to do with their lives. When she requests to look up what year they died, I hesitate, but remember that she is in charge of our time together and that my role is to serve her in any way I can.

Allow time for your own reactions after you leave.

It can be very emotional to visit with someone who is not feeling well. You may feel drained, uplifted, sad, grateful or any combination of these potentially conflicting emotions.

Because during your visit you are focused on their needs, it is important to schedule as much time as possible afterward for your own honest reactions to emerge. Instead of moving immediately to your next activity, take time for a walk around the block or even just to reflect a few minutes alone in your car before actually driving off.

Here is a Healing Technique from Body Aware Grieving that may assist you before moving on to the next part of your day: Healing Technique: Transition 10.

Two goals are important for feeling a visit has been “successful”.
A) Did the person you went to see have a better day because you were there?
B) If it turns out this becomes the last time to see this person, are you at peace that you have been as kind as you were capable of being to them?

Hopefully a few of these suggestions are useful to you and the people you are helping to care for. Are there other ideas and examples from your own life that you can share with me and other readers?

If you would like to learn more about my magical and feisty friend Mildred, please check out these previous articles I have written about her.

Functional Fitness from 17 to 97

6 Ways to Help Reduce Suicide and Depression

As always…best wishes to you,

Margo Rose

Getting mom to exercise it’s about keeping it relative

As a teacher of movement and balance exercises for seniors in Independent and assisted living center, I run across a good number of seniors who are used to sitting and doing nothing during the course of a normal day. I find this to be true also of most over 80 seniors who are home bound. […]

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