Well the amount of dual diagnosis for couples is rising, I’m afraid. It’s really tough when you have both parents ill or suffering through side issues of emotions or depression. But lets take a few ideas and throw them around. As you know; the first and best idea is to re-locate them into a retirement situation that includes meals and activities. That would give you and your family so much time and energy saved with your parent’s care. On the down side; it would probably take the value of their home for their life care, so there will probably be no big inheritance in your future. Lots of children of elders think that the carrot at the end of their care-giving stick…is inheriting their parent’s home. (trust me, a lot of kids feel this way) If you can say goodbye to that future income; in exchange for the parents being in a place where their life can be relieved of so much stress and just think about their personal and health issues— it would make a huge change for all of you.
But the reason I write this blog is that ‘most’ families can not do that change. The parents may not want to move, their home may not have equity, their income may not allow them to have assisted or retirement care. So what do families do if this is the case? Lets list a few ideas and see if you can take a few of them to help your current situation.
TAKE THE PRESSURE OF CARE AND REDUCE IT WITH THESE TIPS:
- Make the rules. If you are going to care for someone on a long-term scale…you get to have a say in the life style and home rules. Get the legal stuff out-of-the-way from the get-go. Get the power of attorney done and signed by both of them. Get their property in joint names and make sure that the dots and dashes are taken care of from day one. I just insist people take care of this issue, even if there is argument and hurt feelings; it’s the way the world is and business is business. Plus, you would never be able to help them in a doctor’s office if you do not have a Power of Attorney for health care signed and notory stamped. Everyone wants this doctors, hospitals, insurance, banks, and the list goes on. Trust me; get this part done.
- Take time with your own family and set up a calendar for the family and work. See the actual days and times that are free before you try to run over and solve your parent’s problems. If you see that Wednesday is a low family value day…than just make it into a mid-week parent check day. Your husband or you will go over and solve mid-week problems, fix a good meal and spend time with them. Then another in person check can be done on the weekend. Work your own schedule not theirs. If they have a TV show or card club that night…too bad. They will have to tape the show and reschedule the cards; YOUR schedule is current and your own family comes first. That is the rule. Then we move on to care time.
- Buy a large calendar for the parents to put up on their kitchen wall. I have one with three months at a time. You are in charge of the calendar. You put in the month and dates and keep it updated at the end of each month. It’s a reminder calendar, birthdays, dr appt, at least one activity outside of the home each month, general things that you do around a house each month. This is the hub of what you will be doing and what they can do.
- You do things that require a ladder and detail work, they do things that are easy to achieve and safe for them to do. You will have to begin to put down the chore list on a small white board…each time you come, you give them things to finish when you are gone. Laundry or folding and putting it away. Or you do the laundry and bring it to them to fold and put away while you are there. It is how well they are functioning that you judge the chores. If you need to do a reminder and call them during the week…then snap a pic of their chore list on your phone..so you can remember what they need to be doing. Keep repeating the chore listing and asking how it is coming, push, push, push…they need to be doing and the confusion of what to do, and who is to do it and how to do it…is giving them stress and thus the arguments. This clearly defined listing of chores is still done, over and over. Do not cave…keep it up, make the chores easier or more complicated depending on their joint abilities.
- They need to move…so here are some tips. If you have close hands on, turn on the TV for the PBS ‘Sit and Be Fit’ or get DVR’s designed for seniors to move. If they need more supervision then take them to the senior center twice a week. If they can not go out and you are not there to help them…get a student to do it for you. Just like a dog walker; exercise students will come to home and do a 30 minute exercise with them. Seniors always respond to young adults. Visit a gym or college and find students that need to get some experience and hire them for a small amount to keep your parents moving and grooving.
- Walking? If the two of them can still walk, a walking group is a great way to add both movement and socializing to their life. Make a few calls…get creative and find local resources to help you care for them. Senior resources are available in all communities; more things than you can imagine…but they are there for the taking so find them.
- ‘Looking forward’ is a big issue with seniors. Get your kinds or your events up on their calendar to share. Let them look forward to grandson’s music concert this month. Let them look forward to a family birthday, wedding, shower, swim party. Get them involved in the function. Grandma’s favorite salad should be made and Grandpa can help with putting up the decorations or setting up the tables. Use their skills and keep them busy. Just like the Cruise ship social director that keeps everyone busy on the 7 day cruise…you begin to get the feel for it and keep them involved in their family and community.