Caregivers' perspective & tips - SMARTMD Caregivers' perspective & tips - SMARTMD
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As our population ages, we see more families faced with the same challenges of taking care of senior parents, aunts, uncles, and even siblings.  This journey can feel lonely, frustrating, and discouraging. While there are many organizations created to help, between the seer weight of emotions and the bureaucratic struggles inherent in any system designed to help many people, it can feel as if no amount of help is enough.

We read through many articles each week on the topic of caring for aging family and friends. While the emotions can not be overstated, the resources, from organizations to self-help advice can be found. Here are a few articles we came across over the past couple of weeks.

The system is not working

“Where’s the help for caregivers” is a familiar story of caring for an aging parent. The author, Phil, identifies the all too common shortcomings of a system that is overwhelmed and a bureaucratic insurance system that does not work for patients. While this is not an article that points to solutions, it is important. We have to acknowledge these issues before we can solve them. Stories like Phil’s and his mothers need greater attention so we can focus resources to address the needs of patients and caregivers.

Self-help for Caregivers

Caregivers often overlook one of the most important things they can do for their loved ones…Take care of themselves. Caregiving is hard. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Left unrecognized or unattended, caregivers’ well-being will deteriorate and they will find themselves having more difficulty taking care of their loved ones. There are organizations that can assist, but showing a little self-love can go a long way. One approach to helping yourself is “How 15 minutes of mental health hygiene can change your whole day.” 

Concerns of finances

For many, money is a life-long worry. This is even more of a concern with aging parents.  AARP provides tips for addressing financial management with aging parents. A couple of items of note in the article: 

Speak with parents early to set up legal items like the power of attorney and advanced directives. Doing this before cognitive issues arise is less difficult to accept.

Don’t attempt to assume full control unless necessary. Helping our in stages, over time, with smaller activities (like reviewing bills) that parents may start to struggle with goes a long way. 

Words matter. “Can I help you?” is easier to accept that “let me do that”. In truth, older folks do better if they retain responsibilities that require mental activity. Helping allows them to do this, whereas taking over leaves them with little to keep active.

As we find more articles on topics ranging from elder care to hospice, we’ll continue to post summaries and links.

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