Even though it was a gorgeous evening, I was thrilled to see more than 60 people put down their gardening tools and tennis rackets to attend the Cornerstone Advisors-hosted discussion at the Bellevue Club on the topic “Caring for Your Elders.” The free discussion was open to the public and featured delicious appetizers and beverages.
One of three elder experts tapped for the discussion, I spoke on caregiving options. I was joined by Karin Miller, a licensed geriatric social worker and Chuck Hammond, client manager of Cornerstone. After we each shared a 20-minute presentation, we answered questions from the floor.
Here is the first of three blogs about the evening’s subject. I will share Karin’s wisdom first.
Emotions of Caregiving
I completely appreciated Karen’s presentation on the emotions surrounding caregiving. It is not an easy job. She noted that of all the many emotions caregivers feel, including love, anger, frustration, sadness and fear, guilt is the worst. Karin suggests that instead of feeling guilty, what loved ones are really feeling is “sadness.” That is, sadness that their loved one has changed and that the game plan needs to change.
Karin also talked about how families know when their loved one needs help. At Andelcare we help families try to understand these issues through our trained care management staff. We are also good listeners. Some of the issues to be aware of and that might signal it’s time for help include:
• Safety – health concerns, not eating, calling 911 for little things
• House safety – Is the house safe? Can they navigate okay?
• Socialization – Do they get out anymore? Or do they only talk on the phone?
• Cognitive issues – Are they able to reason, make decisions?
Of course, when it is clear the loved one needs help, how do you discuss it with them? Karin pointed out that one good strategy is to have the person who can tell them things to talk to them directly about their needs. Another strategy is to enlist the aid of a professional who can help navigate the system.
About the caregiving experience, Karin said, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
What tips do you have for opening the caregiving discussion?