Parents care for children, and then children grow up to become parents and care for their own children. That’s the natural order of things—except when it isn’t.
Sometimes parents cannot care well for themselves, and need others to help. This is when children, purely out of love and concern, often begin to care for a parent. Sometimes the caregiving journey is short-lived, because the need for care is temporary—such as when a parent has surgery or goes through treatment to regain health. Sometimes it’s a long journey because the parent has a chronic illness such as dementia, or the after-effects of a stroke. When a child cares for an ailing parent, how is the parent/child relationship affected, and what can the child do to make the journey easier?
May Is Older Americans Month
The month of May represents national “Older Americans Month,” when communities across the country recognize older Americans for their contributions and demonstrate the nation’s commitment to helping them stay healthy and active.
This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, communities are focusing on how older adults are taking charge of their health, engaging in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law in July 1965. Since that time, the Act has provided a nationwide aging services network and funding that helps older adults live with dignity in the communities of their choice for as long as possible.
While AGE of Central Texas provides programs, education, and resources to older adults and their caregivers year-round, Older Americans Month offers an opportunity to emphasize how senior adults can access the home- and community-based services they need to live independently. We are honored to be a part of the live of the older adults and family caregivers of this community, and to join them on their journey.
On a recent Tuesday, several adults diagnosed with memory loss gathered in a church in East Austin wearing pink wigs, cowboy hats, Hawaiian leis, and ski caps. One woman, who is really from France, told the others she was from Seattle and sung in a punk band. Another man recounted his recent journey sailing across the Atlantic. A woman from Mexico shared hunting tips. They hadn’t forgotten where and who they were. Rather, these men and women were the first group in Austin to ever try improv comedy as therapy for memory loss.
Last month, AGE expanded its Early Memory Loss Support program to a third site at Hope Lutheran Church in East Austin. In a new location with new participants, AGE brought in a new activity with the improv experts at Move Your Tale. The group was diverse—seven older adults with early-stage memory loss, program coordinator Delilah Dominguez, and a handful of eager volunteers, including the church’s pastor and deaconess.
When someone in your family has dementia, or really any other chronic condition, it can affect what holiday time and family gatherings look like. There’s no magic solution, but we hope these tips and reminders might help make this holiday season a bit easier and merry as you balance the holidays as a caregiver.
1. Help your family and friends adjust their expectations
If some time has passed since visiting relatives or friends have seen the person who has dementia, there may have been significant changes in that person’s status since the last time friends or family last saw them. It is often very helpful if you update family, perhaps via a mass email or individual phone calls, on what kind of cognitive changes are going on and what they can expect when they arrive.
These changes can be hard for family members to accept. Remind them that changes in memory and behavior are a result of the disease, not the person. Continue reading
Sunday was the first day of fall, which makes it the perfect time to talk about the risk of falls for older adults—this week is Fall Prevention Awareness Week!
Here are 6 facts to help build a clearer picture of why falls are a serious issue: Continue reading
By Diane Walker RN, MS, CSA
Getting a cold or — even worse — the flu is a miserable inconvenience for anyone. For an older adult, the outcome can be worse than a few missed days at work or the inability to enjoy one’s activities, it can be much more serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “…90% of seasonal flu-related deaths and more than 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the United States each year occur in people 65 years and older.” Older immune systems tend to be weaker which allows the flu to turn into more serious conditions such as bronchitis and / or pneumonia.
While an illness can hit anyone at any time, there are ways to prevent developing a cold or the flu. The best way to treat a cold or flu is to not get it in the first place. Prevention is key. Seniors and their caretakers should keep the following tips in mind to keep an older adult healthy: Continue reading
For the past year, I have had the great honor to serve on the Austin Mayor’s Task Force on Aging. I am very proud to have been part of this effort.
The recommendations from the Task Force include the following focus areas:
- Healthy Living
- Informed Community
We are especially thrilled that under the focus area of ‘independence’, the Task Force specifically highlights the need for critical support and training for family caregivers. One of their recommendations is to expand CaregiverU, a collaboration that AGE is honored to coordinate with the generous support of the St. David’s Foundation. Continue reading
(Guest Post by Caregiving Cafe)
According to Pew Research’s report titled “The Sandwich Generation,” 47% of US adults in their 40’s and 50’s have a parent who is 65 or older and are caring for a child 18 or younger, or are supporting a grown child. Many are providing caregiving as well as financial and emotional support. [Pew Research, January 2013]
With advancing age, the likelihood of an aging parent needing help by the time a child becomes a young adult is rather great. The picture becomes a bit more complex as grown children experiencing hardship (financial or emotional) pull at their parents’ heartstrings (and wallet).
I have had a taste of this dubious “sandwich” while caring long-distance for my mother and raising our daughter. Mine was actually loaded with the “extras,” as I also began to care for my husband when our daughter had just turned 13. He became disabled as a result of CRPS, a painful and debilitating neurological disease. Continue reading
Here are a few of the things we know about the older adult population:
- The older population (65+) numbered 41.4 million in 2011, an increase of 6.3 million or 18% since 2000.
- Over one in every eight, or 13.3%, of the population is an older American.
- Almost 3.6 million elderly persons (8.7%) were below the poverty level in 2011.
- The Round Rock-Austin metropolitan area had the fastest growing “pre-senior” (age 55-64) population in the country, with a 110% change.
- Growth of the senior (age 65+) population ranked second nationally over the same period.
In the news, most of what you hear about aging is reflects negative or worried attitudes like how the ‘silver tsunami’ is coming and how the community isn’t ready to adequately deal with the booming population of older adults. At AGE of Central Texas, our business is to face the negativity head on to meet the needs of seniors in our community and help older adults age with dignity and vitality.
Thankfully, the time is upon us to focus on the positivity of aging– May is Older Americans Month! Every year since 1963, May has been the month to appreciate and celebrate the vitality and aspirations of older adults and their contributions and achievements. It is a proud tradition that shows our nation’s commitment to honor the value that elders continue to contribute to our communities. Continue reading
[This is the fifth installment of posts from Faith, AGE’s CaregiverU Coordinator and personal expert on being a family caregiver – you’ll continue hearing from her on a range of topics once a month.]
Lawn care. Hmmm, not my expertise. I do enjoy the sight of a well tended lawn, though. Thick green grass, nicely edged, pretty stones in a ring around each tree, neatly trimmed trees, front flower bed blooming. All very nice, but I am clueless as to how to create that, and probably not much better on knowing how to maintain it. You see, I’ve been married close to 45 years and we’ve had a system called ‘his work’ and ‘her work’. I took care of the inside of the house and he took care of the outside. The work inside of the house and all my other responsibilities took up all of my time and then some, so I paid little attention to the work in our yard. Seven years ago when we moved into our current house, I was eager to learn how to do yard work and hoped to work together with my spouse to plan the landscaping and share in the labor. My dear husband was insulted by those plans—refer back to ‘his work’ and ‘her work’ above. The yard was definitely his domain and I’d best remember that. In the name of peace and harmony, I took my rightful place, and simply enjoyed the loveliness.
I enjoyed it until now. Now my spouse is not so capable of planning and organizing the yard work. He sometimes forgets how to start the lawn mower and claims it doesn’t work. Our good neighbor comes over to get it going, and tells him the mower just needed an adjustment. Helpful friends give him bedding plants for the flower beds, thinking he would enjoy digging in the dirt again. He enjoys the digging and puttering, but then becomes very anxious because the plants aren’t thriving. That’s when he asks me what to do, and, I’m –clueless. He worries about the bald spots in the front lawn and then I worry. Surely bald spots are not a good thing, but what does one do? Continue reading