Several of my clients celebrated birthdays over the weekend. I was lucky enough to speak or see quite a few of them. As each of us takes another trip around the sun, the truth is we're all getting older. And that beats the hell out of the alternative.
Roughly 10,000 baby boomers are going to turn 65 today. Another 10,000 will turn 65 tomorrow. And so on. Our population is growing older and as they do, they need help. Some may not need help at 65 or even 75, but there will be a point where they need assistance. Maybe they can no longer safely get in and out of their shower or bathtub. Maybe they forgot whether or not they had lunch. Interesting fact, seniors tend towards dehydration because they forget to drink water. Many falls are the result of undiagnosed UTI's. Once someone falls and breaks something, the road back can be long and difficult. Each of my parents fell and broke a hip. My father spent the night on the floor because no one could help him up. Scammers prey on our seniors. They become lonely and the scammer knows how to be of comfort...right before they get their checking account information. There is now the Sandwich Generation. Those folks still have to work, they have kids either still at home or are paying for college and their parents are retired and need help. The weight can be crushing.
While my father was alive, my mother was able to care for him. We did not know that my mother was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She was a very intelligent woman and hid her symptoms eloquently, until one day she couldn't any more. With my father gone my brother and I struggled to balance work, life and making sure our mother didn't 1) burn down the condo complex 2) wander away 3) give her credit card to a scammer 4) let a scammer into the house (I called one day and she said she couldn't talk that the vacuum cleaner salesman was vacuuming the rug.) Add to that a plethora of things we could not begin to predict. It was stressful. We cooked meals in advance for her so we knew she had good food to eat. We checked on her daily to be sure she hadn't "fallen and couldn't get up". We took phone calls that barely made sense. I canceled my New Year's Eve plans to take her to the hospital because she fell that night. I left events and parties because she called confused and if I didn't I had no idea what crazy thing she was going to do next. She called me at 5:30 in the morning to tell me not to worry she was getting a ride to the hospital with the firemen. She wasn't hurt, she called 911 got an ambulance ride for an old shoulder injury. Her mind was gone but she could still dial a phone. That doesn't count the times I was out of town and my brother dropped everything to ferret out what was going on in her failing mind.
If any of this sounds familiar, I'm with you. I get it. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.
Mom is still with us, living in a memory care facility, which in our case was the best decision to keep her safe. Each family has different dynamics and different abilities. In our case, everyone has to work to keep our own families afloat so keeping her in place or having her move in was not an option. For some families, that's the perfect option. Sometimes that's the sweetest time together. Sometimes in home care is the solution. We did that until it was not enough.
One of the resources we used was Senior Helpers in Concord. Jenny's staff took great care of my mother after she broke her hip and going forward until it was time to place her. Jenny even helped us place my mother in the best place possible and helped us with the details of the best way to move an Alzheimer's patient. (Hint: it's not easy).
Another resource I wanted to share was the VA. If your senior is a veteran the VA has a program to give you a respite of 16 days if the family is the primary caregivers. The vet goes into the VA for up to 16 days and that gives the family a break. Sometimes it's just a mental break, sometimes having the senior out of the house allows for deep cleaning or flooring to be replaced that would otherwise be impossible.
The bottom line, no matter how unique your situation, you're not alone. There are resources to help you honor your loved ones as they age. I can be reached at 925-381-2998. I would be pleased to connect you to reputable folks who can help your loved one.