SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: A caregiver’s request | Lifestyles
Over the years of writing Senior Spotlight for our community newspaper, I have written about caregiving numerous times. Sometimes it was about the reward of caring for a loved one, or it may have been about the health benefits to both the caregiver and your loved one; or about the stress to your health from not taking care of yourself because you put your caregiving role / your loved one first; or about resources in the community that are available to you, the caregiver, or your loved one; and this column has considered about the growing need for caregivers as our community ages. As a caregiver myself, it is a topic that is near and dear to me.
And, I’ve come to realize that when I write about caregiving, it is the topic I receive the most comments about. This past week my primary care doctor commented on my articles, and said they like the ones about caregiving best. Also, my friend Marie and I have shared caregiving stories — support for each other in a way only a caregiver can understand.
So, this week, I am sharing “a caregiver’s request” in honor of Marie (and others).
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A caregiver’s request:
Elderly people are often isolated by choice or by circumstance. This last year of COVID restrictions and protocols further curtailed visits from relatives and friends. The world is beginning to open up for interaction and contact. Many older adults expect friends and relatives to call or visit, especially after losing a spouse, but both visits and phone calls may be few and far between.
Take the time to send a card or make that phone call. Visiting may not be possible due to distance or time limitations but sending a card with a note will be most appreciated and welcome. It’s particularly important for those who still don’t have laptops or are unable to access email or text. Many still enjoy going to the mailbox each day to see what the mail will bring.
Caregivers crave free time and carry many burdens so if you plan a visit don’t expect those daughters or sons to entertain you. Caregivers are especially appreciative when visitors offer to spend some time alone with their elderly relative. Visit with the intent of interacting with the elderly person. Offer to bring a lunch. Bring photos or memorabilia that will spark conversation. Think of memories to share. If the person enjoys games, watching family videos, or playing cards, consider that activity as an option. You don’t need to spend hours on a visit. One or two hours is more than enough time to brighten anyone’s day.
Call ahead to schedule a time for a visit. People who are elderly may have particular daily schedules and need more time to prepare for the day. Sleeping through the night may be difficult so opportunities to nap or sleeping-in may be needed. Dropping by for an unscheduled visit can disrupt these idiosyncratic lifestyles. Clearly state that you don’t want them to fuss with any food or drink. If people still live at home or in their own apartment and have entertained for many years, they may still feel an obligation to set out plates of food. Remind them that you don’t want them to fuss and that you will bring food to share, unless a caregiver offers to prepare a meal. Just be aware that caregivers don’t need additional tasks.
Gestures of care and concern won’t go unnoticed and won’t be forgotten. It will also make you feel both wiser and richer in heart and soul.
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Very true, my friend Marie.
Maureen A. Wendt is president and CEO of The Dale Association, a non-profit organization that provides senior, mental health, in-home care, caregiver support services and enrichment activities for adults. For more information, call 433-1937 or visit www.daleassociation.com .