We rarely take time to dwell on this, but at some future point, many of us will need assistance as physical disabilities, chronic illness, frailty, or dementia take hold.
It happens every time: I come to a senior assisted living facility to do a workshop on telling life stories. I enter a room filled with seniors in varying degrees of ability. Some are in wheelchairs, some have caregivers, some clearly can’t hear or see very well.
In the past months, I have been navigating the rough and turbulent waters of dementia, trying to cope with the changes I observe in my mother’s behavior.
Yes, it is fall, which means we are approaching the holiday season. The retail stores are crowded with holiday decorations, which, ultimately, poses the question, “Should we decorate our living space when we are a caregiver?”
Before you know it, the holiday rush will be upon us. Often, for adult children, it is one of the few times they get to see mom and dad during the year. Families can be separated by distance (and much more) and caregiving from afar can be difficult, stressful and time-consuming.
There are millions of long-distance caregivers, and the numbers are growing every day. Distances vary, though loved ones who need care may live in another state or even another country. My parents lived in the same state but 90 miles away. It was a 2-hour commute each way for me.
Do you help take your parents to their doctor’s appointments? If you’re a woman over 50 in the United States, chances are high that you do.
While the average age of a family caregiver is around 49, over a third of all family caregivers are actually over 65. In addition to helping with daily tasks like shopping, giving medicine and preparing food, family caregivers often tend to transportation to doctor’s appointments as well.
Have you noticed that sometimes people don’t speak to disabled or ill persons because they don’t really know what to say? The same is true about caregivers. If friends don’t know exactly what to say to us, sometimes they say nothing at all.
Caregivers are usually dependable, persistent, detailed, vigilant – and seemingly tireless. But not many people would characterize caregivers as lonely. Yet as a caregiver, I have experienced many periods of loneliness. Depending on your circumstances, you may feel the same way.