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7 STOP/GO Signs for Best Caregiving of Elders

pic of mom and every

My mother in wheelchair with younger sister Aunt Evey, who passed seven years before her, on a cruise docked in Greece.

Mother and me on a Mother’s Day

An elder lives in your home or you’ve been declared the primary caregiver after rehab or crisis? This list is for you.

A friend related on Facebook how her mother had completed her living will and Do-Not-Resuscitate wishes, which caused her to assume the next step would be planning for hospice. What signaled a similar change for me was my mother falling too often, and having such white-coat high blood pressure that the doctors recommended hospice care twice. She didn’t need it and I explained her blood pressure had a way of shooting north when she got near a hospital or hospital personnel.

The false alarm energy lasted a year or two, and in that time I got to see how my life was forever changed. I tried to avoid the inevitable by opening and running a dollar store for two years. I couldn’t face the fact that my mother’s care was landing on me, an only child. Then I woke up, sold her house, moved into a more accommodating one, and she blessed me by staying four more years.

I’m grateful but I sometimes regret some aspects of her care took too long for me to adopt. This is why I am advising you to follow these even signs for best caregiving of your loved one. 

pic of jeannette bq

Mother the Beauty Queen in the 1950s

1. STOP! Avoid the Emotional Traps, Gift Them to God.

GUILT, RESENTMENT, ANGER, WORRY, LONELINESS, GRIEF and DEFENSIVENESS, according to care.com. If you can rate yourself self B, this is better than A+ you may be striving for. You cannot successfully care for someone if you care so much about meeting an impossibly high (Joneses) standard.

2. GO! Get Yourself on a Schedule, Quickly.

This includes scheduling your personal time away from mother, father, relative or friend, and scheduling their meds, holistic appointments, sacred time if religious, etc. Get a calendar template. They are available online and in hospitals and health centers.

3. GO! Support Your Elder Emotionally, in Companion Mode.

This may be the easiest role you will play, especially if you are patient by nature. Your elder will eventually emote and share themselves. Write down* his/her stories, express your love verbally and with small gifts like chocolates if allowable.

4. STOP! Do Not Second Guess the Doctors. 

If you do, you set yourself up for the emotional chains (#1) that will tighten when you signal concern (worry). As a certified holistic health consultant who “knew a thing or two,” I took care of my mother and was guided to work with the “establishment.” I thus did not communicate from a place of rejection of doctors’ training and knowledge. At the same time…

5. GO! Share Your Expertise with Doctors

One reason impoverished people are experimented on in medical settings is because no one vouches for them. This could happen anywhere (not just a country with a legacy of enslaving or evicting people). You owe it to your elder and community to make known the specialness of your relationship, and your high expectations of the doctor’s protocols for improvement. Establish a mutual trust and respect and then share your wellness expertise. Physicians will work with you and modify medication dosages and urgency if need be, knowing your insights can be incorporated into the care. Listen, listen, listen, then contribute.

6. STOP! Don’t Ignore Elder’s Wish To Stay in Bed 

It may seem like a no-brainer, but physical and occupational therapists and nurse practitioners may feel your senior can exercise and do more for themselves than they are willing to or truly can emotionally. If you notice a gradual or abrupt shutdown in pro-activity, do three things:

1) move in with them or have them move in with you;

2) hire help for full or half days. Get as much help as you can, from relatives if you must; and

3) ensure the living will, advance directive and other formal agreements are in place and updated. *This is  the other item you were working on while being a good companion.

7. GO! Get Caregiver Support for Yourself

WebMD says you must align yourself with other caregivers and explore the resources available to you. The hospital or rehab facility your senior is associated with should have a call-line, workshop, support group or class you can join immediately.

  • Administration on Aging
  • National Association of Agencies on Aging
  • Eldercare Locator
  • AARP
  • Children of Aging Parents
  • Family Caregiver Alliance
  • National Alliance for Caregiving
  • Caregiver Action Network

–Rev. Niamo Nancy Muid