Family First: Elder Care Made Easier

Source: 
CBS2 TV New York
Published: 
03/14/2007

 

CBS 2

(CBS) NEW YORK Millions of families are facing the challenges of taking care of an elderly loved one. Whether you're moving a parent into your home or caring for a spouse who is having health problems, the transition can be stressful and sometimes tear families apart. Often times the caregiver is neglected, and that can be disastrous for everyone.

For advice on how to make sure the cargiver is also taken care of, CBS 2's Cindy Hsu spoke with Doctor Marion Somers who has been a geriatric specialist for more than 30 years and is the author of the book "Elder Care Made Easier."

ASK DOCTOR MARION!

What often happens with primary caregivers?

Very often, the caregiver is so focused on taking care of the immediacy of a problem, that they neglect themselves both physically and emotionally. All of their energy is going into dealing with the situation at hand that they very often forget about themselves.

Advice on how to make sure the caregiver is cared for?

They must be realistic about their time, their financial resources, and all aspects of their own life. Taking these factors into consideration, they must then figure out how much, realistically, they can be involved in the caregiving without having their own life disintegrate.

What if the caregiver won't take a break due to guilt?

When a caregiver neglects themselves by not taking a break, they will oftentimes, be less able to deal with their own families, children, spouses and jobs. Caregiving takes a physical as well as emotional toll. You must communicate to them that if they fall apart, the person who is depending upon them will not be taken care of, which will ultimately compound the problem.

What are some ways to help the caregiver with their duties?

- Be a support to them, both emotionally and physically
- Help them in ways that are practical
- Volunteer to do some of the work involved
- Hire outside help to do some of the work - whether it's food shopping, having "Meals on Wheels" or a local restaurant deliver one hot meal a day, helping with the cleaning and/or laundry services.
- Ask neighbors and friends to call or visit to check up on the older person
- Remember that different people have different skills - Ask someone to help balance the checkbook, bring them to the beauty parlor, or even have the beautician come to the house
- Remember that many services can be done inside the home - whether a doctor comes to the house, a beautician, a barber
- Don't forget to check your local senior center, church or synagogue to see what services they provide.

Resources?

- Elder Care Made Easier: Doctor Marion's Ten Steps to Help you Care for an Aging Loved One

- www.doctormarion.com: On this website, you will find many national resources.

Whatever the ailment the elder person is dealing with, go to that specific national organization- that will give you info on what is being done nationally as well as locally. Most of these organizations have a support component on the local level.

Final thoughts?

BE PROACTIVE, RATHER THAN REACTIVE. If you see small changes in the person you are caring for, attend to the issues as they arise. Don't wait for it to become a bigger issue.

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