February 2014 - Family Caregiving
I write this month as we return from the Christmas holiday. The holidays are often an occasion for families to get together, whether for a meal or a longer visit. This is when we notice changes from the last visit in parents, friends, and extended family members.
It may be that you notice that someone’s balance or mobility is worse, or that they don’t seem to see the dust kitties in the corners, or that the piles of mail are overwhelming the kitchen table. Maybe there are burn marks on the counter by the stove or more obvious signs of memory loss. I don’t want to be all negative because it can also be reassuring to find out that things are going well, that a person is doing fine on their own, or that there is a very special caregiver in place.
Often this visit is a difficult experience for family members. It is never easy to see people you love and think of as vital and fully independent experiencing challenges. Some people are also good at covering, especially when visits are brief. Family members often say to me “it isn’t really so bad” when telling me about someone falling or getting lost driving. But it is important to watch for, and respond to, signs of risk to prevent more serious harm. I remember when I realized that my father-in-law was not using any proper nouns although he was participating in the conversation in a way that seemed appropriate. It was hard for his children to consider the cognitive loss implications I saw in this. Digging deeper revealed unpaid bills and poor decisions based on confusion. I see an important part of our job as the care coordinators at PSRC to help families learn what to look for, how to respond, and what may lie ahead so they can plan.
Many people come in to see us in the weeks after these family holidays. PSRC is a tremendous resource. Care coordinators can help you through consultations and assessments (by appointment) to identify options, make a plan and connect with support services. It is our goal to help people preserve self-determination and independence as long as possible. It is important for them to be a part of this planning whenever feasible.
These holiday visits are also a wonderful opportunity to have “the talk” between generations. “The Talk” is about how you want to spend the rest of your life; where you want to live, how you’ll finance it, where you will find support, your end-of-life decisions. Often several family members are gathered and have time for conversation at these visits. Either parents or children can initiate the talk. Use the Five Wishes document or an anecdote as a springboard: “my friend Mary just moved to a smaller apartment in the center of town…” or “Mom, I noticed new dents on the car…”
I experienced this personally this holiday. I had more time to spend with my parents, and I was able to notice and dedicate time to tasks that have become hard for them to complete. I found ways to help that respected their need to feel in charge of the processes. I had time to slow down and explain how I was helping set up the new phones. We had fun reviewing photo albums and scanning favorites. This also gave us an opportunity to talk about those who are gone, and what it feels like to be nearly the last cousin or friend. And there is little that my mother enjoys more than dinners with her grandchildren!
We drove my parents to visit my aunt and uncle who live in their home, but both have mobility and health problems. Conversations with them about available services are met with declarations that they are doing fine, mixed with tales of recent visits by the first aid squad in response to falls. My cousins shrug and tell me they try to visit every couple of months or so. This is a sharp contrast to my parents’ gratitude!
I use my personal experiences and those shared by the dozens of people who have attended my caregiver support groups over the last 10 years to support family caregivers who attend these groups or consultations. Spouse/Friend Caregivers meet on the second Monday of the month at 1:30 and Children of Aging Parents meets on the second Wednesday at 4:30. Both groups are free and open.
Please remember that you are PSRC’s best ambassadors. Tell friends and family about our Partners In Caring Princeton services, which includes caregiver support, consultations, planning, education and linkage to services. Ongoing care coordination is also available if eligible.
Susan W Hoskins, LCSW
GrandPals Celebrate 20 Years!
No One Ages Well Alone
Help at Home
November 2016 Family Caregiving
October 2016 Annual Report
September 2016 Corporate Healthcare
Is Your Home Age- Friendly?
May 2016 Director's Message Part 2 - We Need Your Help
May 2016 - Part 1 - Going Solo
April 2016 - Volunteering
March 2016 - Partners In Caring
February 2016 - PSRC's Strategic Plan
January 2016 - Hope
December 2015 - Gratitude
November 2015 - Helicopter Children
October 2015 - Is Princeton An Age Friendly Community?
September 2015 - Annual Report
July & August 2015 - Family and Community
June 2015 - A Gift that Keeps Giving
May 2015 60 Is the New 60
April 2015 - Spring
March 2015 - Being Mortal
February 2015 - Mentoring
January 2015 - Winter Blues
December 2014 - Leaving A Legacy
October 2014 An Age Friendly Future
September 2014 Annual Report
July - August 2014
June 2014 - Romance After 50
May 2014 - Your Virtual Estate
April 2014 - Memory and Forgetting
March 2014 - Aging in Community
February 2014 - Family Caregiving
January 2014 - Attitudes about Aging
December 2013 - Giving
November 2013 - Healthcare Marketplace
October 2013 - Annual Report 2013
September 2013 - Total Brain Health® Fair
July - August 2013 My cat, My Father and Me
June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities
May 2013 - Navigating a Changing HealthCare Landscape
April 2013 - Becoming Visible
March 2013 - Navigating Life’s Transitions
February 2013 - Partners in Caring Princeton
January 2013 - Men as Caregivers
December 2012 - The Safety Net
November 2012 - Going Solo
October 2012 - Documenting Your History
September 2012 - A Journey of Transformation
July - August 2012 - Gratitude & Moving
June 2012 - Diversity
May 2012- Aging in America
APRIL 2012 - TEN YEARS
March 2012 - Patient-centered Care
February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?
January 2012 - Challenges & Opportunities
December - Are you Prepared for Emergencies?
November - We need YOU!
October - Chocolate for Memory
September- Looking Back and Looking Forward
July - August 2011; Ageism
June 2011 - Accessibility
May 2011 - Paper retention
Knit Wits, April 2011
Lessons and Legacies, March 2011
Independent Living February 2011
Home Safety January 2011
Witness to my Life December 2010
Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010
Retire in 3D!
Am I Old?
Aging In America May 2010
Volunteering April 2010
Spirituality March 2010
Encore Careers January 2010
Hiring Home Care
Annual Giving by
Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009
Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind
A Personal Perspective on Caregiving
Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity
Write your own obituary
Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look!
Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008
Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning
Finding Rhythm and Purpose
Spring Cleaning II June 2008
V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008
Spring Cleaning April 2008
Have You Had the Talk Yet?
Get Moving with FitRhythms™!
My Condolences January 2008
What Are Social Services? November 2007
Plan for the Future September 2007
The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007
Volunteering June 2007
Strategic Plan May 2007
National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007
Brain Health March 2007
Resiliency February 2007
Transportation January 2007
Season of Giving December 2006
Medicare Part D November 2006
April Hill McElroy October 2006
Civic Engagement September 2006
Change June 2006
White House Conference on Aging May 2006
Hearing Loss April 2006
GrandPals March 2006
Lets Talk February 2006
Eldertopia January 2006
Hoarding December 2005
Annual Report: November 2005
Are You Prepared? October 2005
Planning Ahead October 2005
Watch Your Language September 2005
Medicare Part D Summer 2005
Sue Tillett June 2005
The End of the Journey May 2005
Clutter March 2005
New Dietary Guidelines February 2005
Transitions January 2005
Funding December 2004
Caregiving November 2004
Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004
A New Look September 2004
Safe Driving Summer 2004
Food Safety June 2004
Communication June 2004
The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004
Seniors On The Move April 2004
Depression March 2004
McGreevey February 2004
Medications January 2004
Random Acts of Kindness December 2003
Civic Engagement November 2003
Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003
Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003