Most people care for themselves and others throughout most of their lives. It is what we do as parents, teachers, and leaders. If we live long enough, we go from being caregivers to needing care. Still, we need some important education to do either of them well.
Being at an age that requires care is not a pleasant place to be. Going from independence or relative independence to dependence is not something to be sought or asked for.
Being a caregiver demands certain knowledge and behavior. It’s one thing to react to the moment and a completely different thing to be a caregiver as one’s job. Family members are rarely trained caregivers, and when they must be, how long does this last? How long can it last?
The cost is considerable when professional caregivers are involved, and if funds for this purpose are limited, the strain on the family is significant and may be impossible. So what can be done?
The aged are either helpless or becoming helpless and are entirely aware of what is happening within their family. What do they feel? How do family members feel?
The whole family must face the issue of elder care at the kitchen table. This is never easy to deal with—the feelings of love and obligation to aging family members are not without complications. Care must be given in every case but from whom, for how long, and in what ways?
It is worth restating that professional care may be beyond the finances of many families who have not planned for this eventuality. And inevitably, as the aging family member continues to live, costs will continue to rise.
All at the kitchen table must discuss these issues and more before the time of need. Putting a plan in place and having a frank evaluation of what may lie ahead is necessary to prepare all involved. Here, as always, genuine dialogue is of the utmost importance.
Speaking for ourselves, we are grateful beyond words for the care that our friends give us. We are forever emotionally in debt to all who are there for us.
Sy & Lenette