30 Mar The Journey into Home Care
Nearly everyone I meet has a story to tell. Yesterday three different individuals relayed to me they were dealing with an aging relative. This will become more and more pervasive as our nation ages. Starting on January 1st of this year, ten thousand people will turn 65 EVERY DAY for the next 20 years! By 2050, 20% of the United States population will be over 65 years of age. Do you need a point of reference to get your arms around this? Look at Florida today. Twenty percent of the population of Florida is over 65 today. Our whole nation will look like Florida by 2050.
Disarm Guilt: What do you do if you are being pushed down this path right now? Many are plagued with inappropriate guilt as they deal with their parents in the home care journey. We deal with more guilt than most Catholic confessionals at times it seems within our home care agency! You will need to resist guilt right now. If there are things you must make right between you and your parent, the time will come to do this later. Many are haunted by the three words “Woulda, shoulda, coulda”. Would I have been a better daughter? Should I have done more? Could I have seen all this coming??…ad infindum, ad nausium. Resist all these thoughts for now. Get some rest and make sure you have some relational free time. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Care for Yourself: When we receive instructions on aircraft before take-off, we are told every time to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before assisting others. The reason is that if oxygen leaves the plane, you only have a few seconds before you lose your ability to be coherent. As you lose oxygen, your hands lose dexterity and your fingers are like bricks. If you wait to get oxygen to your own body, you quickly become useless not only to help others, but to save yourself. The same is true in home care. As soon as you begin to go down the difficult path of home care for an aging relative, you need to care for yourself first. Otherwise, the demands will cause you to lose coherence. How many have been dealing with a parent with dementia and started to feel like you were losing your own sanity? It happens all the time. I experienced this myself. I was with a client to do an initial assessment regarding the needs of a mother with dementia. I was talking with the daughter while her very confused mother sat with us. After two hours, I felt near mental exhaustion. The mother was completely confused which was difficult in itself. The daughter had been alone with her, dealing with this by herself for so long that she was having difficulty making sense herself. I literally had two cognitively challenged individuals to work with. Getting help to them was tough. You must care for yourself first in home care. Otherwise you will be like my client mentioned above: you will both start losing your mind. Care for yourself!
Get Outside Help: If you are beginning the journey into home care, contact outside help. Many agencies will be listening ears, even if you don’t use their services. You can contact a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) who can come and help you navigate the resources available. You may call our offices (1-877-549-7894) to talk. Having someone else to digest information is very important. Even if they tell you what you already know, at least you will know you are on the right track.
There are more tips and assistance available. You may contact me at any time via our website at www.accfamily.com. We are eager to walk with you down this path.