By Di Patterson, September 13, 2021
I love eldercaregivers. Maybe it’s because I’ve already put so much time and effort into this pursuit. Maybe it’s because I know that caring about much-older adults is morally good and extremely helpful to our whole society’s overall health; emotionally, physically and financially. Maybe it’s because I feel so helped by the wisdom my much-older adults have to offer. Whatever the reason, I find myself smiling and nodding at eldercaregivers!
Here are my best tips, professionally and personally, I can offer to other eldercaregivers:
Think frugally: Saving money, especially in a tight economy, implies wisdom, which is a key element in respect. Showing respect financially adds a layer of dignity in older age.
Think schedules: Being dependable with meals and snacks, bathing and grooming, social engagement, and daily exercise is so important. Dependability is a form of security.
Think preferences: One of the most respectful things we do for others (and ourselves) is to honor preferences. Food and beverages, living space, clothing, entertainment; such make our lives!
Think safety: Get Medic Alert bracelets or shoe tags in case of wandering; take CERT emergency training; think disaster preparedness for earthquakes, loss of electricity, fires and floods.
Think like a Gerontologist: We are Aging professionals! We study and promote positive aging through Aging biology, psychology, sociology, ethics and lifespan development theory. Read everything you can about Aging; become informed on resources, support groups, and the challenges of normal aging for much-older adults and their caregivers.
Think rest/refresh/relax: Stress literally KILLS. Never underestimate the power of a good cup of tea or a movie, music or beauty-break! Stress impacts all of us. Statistics tell the sad story of eldercaregivers who don’t care for themselves. Get help; take that break!
Think compassionately: for both your much-older adult and yourself. If you are not having any fun, think what your elder must be going through! Laugh, as laughter releases two chemicals known to drive away “the biggies”—pain and fear— two all-too-frequent realties of old age. Call a funny friend or watch a dependable comedy; or both!
Think kindness: How we treat elders when others are watching is probably how they will treat you. If you care for someone with dementia, write this down: “Dementia always wins. Do not fight with it, question it, or try to change it. Dementia always wins.” Tape it on your mirror and fridge, and mail a copy to every family member.
Think LOVE: That is why most people are eldercaregiving; because they love their much-older adult. Remember to love YOURSELF enough to take care of YOU! All who love you will thank you, including your darling elder.
©Di Patterson, CPG: “No one WANTS to age, but EVERYONE wants to AGE WELL!”