Tag Archive | Baby Boomers

Treat Them with Dignity

Cindy Sproles

Today’s society has lost a huge part of its compassion. The world of media brings loss, pain and tragedy into our lives at an overwhelming rate. As a people, we’ve become desensitized to the core values we were taught as children.

Baby Boomers were raised by parents or loved ones who believed in the validity of a handshake and the importance of treating others as they themselves expected to be treated. They held tight to work ethic, honesty, integrity, faith and dignity.

As our parents age, they are faced with the realization and loss of these basic staples of life. It’s a painful process when they must accept the inability to stand alone –lose their independence.

When your patience runs low or you feel the deep frustration that accompanies an aging parent, keep in mind what is hard for us as children is tenfold for our parents.

Remember as parents age and begin to repeat questions, that when we were children we constantly asked “Why?”

When they can’t seem to recall your name, remember there was a time when the only name we could repeat, was theirs. When their movements are slow and tedious, keep in mind, it was their loving hands which steadied us as we toddled. If a meal ends up on their clothes instead of in their mouths, don’t forget who patiently taught us to feed ourselves and then gently swiped the goo from our fingers.

Remember as our parents continue to grow older and personal cleanliness becomes a problem, it was they who walked us through potty training and who bathed the mud from our childhood antics, then re-cleaned the tub for the ump-teenth time. And when they lose their confidence after a fall, remember the numerous times they held us close after a tumble, then encouraged us to forge ahead. It was our parents who cheered us through the rough times as a child and who allowed us to lean against them as adults.

When you are frustrated with the added “stuff”—walkers, canes or wheelchairs which have to be lugged out the door and to the car just to take them to the post office, keep in mind the diaper bags, the bottles, the extra clothes, snacks and “stuff” they toted off their shoulder, while you rested on their hip, legs dangling and arms squeezing their necks. It was a chore then and it’s still a chore, but worth the effort—worth the love.

And most of all, when they meet with the fears of forgetfulness and the anxieties of being in unfamiliar surroundings, remember how they stood in the background, just in view, encouraging you to step forward, “You can do it.”

Finally, when the reality that they cannot be left alone digs deep into their hearts, remember they never left us alone, afraid, or ignored us as small children, but they kept us close at hand, always watching, always present…always there.

When the roles reverse, remember to love and treat the aging seniors with dignity and honor—for without them, we would be nothing. Everything we learned…we learned from our parents. If for nothing else, they have earned the right.

The Terrible F-word…Fear

As baby boomers assume more and more responsibility for their aging parents a number of issues move to the forefront—questions that need to be answered, fears that need to be soothed.

Providing appropriate care for our aging parents places a huge and unexpected burden on young families. Adult children are torn as to how to offer the most appropriate care for their parents.

Here are a few suggestions which will help ease the fear that accompanies the decisions for our aging parents.

Private caregivers verses company hired caregivers. The first choice of family members for the care of their elder parents is immediate family members. However, extended family quickly dissipates as the weeks of care progress. Immediate family members have the responsibility to care for their own families as well as their parents. One cannot interrupt the regular schedule of a home for an extended time without dire consequences.

A second choice is to hire private duty caregivers. These usually come from friends or  media sources such as classified ads. Though there are many wonderful caregivers found through this method, families are placing themselves in a high risk situation.

If a private duty caregiver is ill or out of town, families are left without care for their senior. For every one caregiver hired outside a company that is wonderful there are five who will not be reliable.

Most insurance companies will not cover any injury to a private duty caregiver under the homeowners policy. Why? This is a workman’s compensation claim and most general homeowner polices do not provide coverage for “employees” of the homeowner. You are at serious risk to be sued to cover major medical expenses.

Backgrounds checks are costly and difficult to attain for the average individual. Most families will only attain a county background check and assume their search is complete. Full background searches through a national data base are necessary to protect your family and your senior from serious consequence.

The benefits of a caregiver company.  There is no question that it is more costly to attain the services of a company who provides caregivers. However, the benefits far outweigh the cost.

By hiring a licensed and bonded company you are hiring quality and responsibility. Many companies are not licensed, bonded, and insuranced even though the State of Tennessee requires these items. Companies who are licensed adhere to the strict standards set by the State and Federal guidelines and are accountable for their actions. Families who hire companies have a mediator in the event there should be any questionable actions of the company providing care.

Companies provide their own liability insurance as well as their own workman’s compensation to cover their employees. And quality companies bill the client, taking any financial responsibilities away from the caregiver and providing records for insurance and accounting.

You will not be left without care. Companies provide quality caregivers and should one become ill or be unable to work, they are able to replace that caregiver quickly and keep your family on track.

By hiring a quality company such as Comfort Keepers, the needs of your loved one will be met with pride, love and compassion taking the fear away from the family and allowing exceptional care that is necessary to keep the aging parent comfortable and happy.

When Roles Reverse

As children of aging parents, the thoughts of role reversal never crossed our minds. For years our parents have been available to help us when we called. They’ve served as babysitters, car repairmen, chief errand runners and in some cases, provided a secondary home for their own adult children, so the thoughts of role reversal haven’t entered the picture.

 When we as adult children come to a sense of reality that our parents are aging, it’s a harsh realization. Unfortunately many baby boomers have become so dependent on their aging parents to assist in their own lives, that giving up that help is difficult at best.

For example, baby boomer’s parents statistically have become the baby sitters for their grandchildren, and though this is a task they’ve enjoyed and one baby boomers have taken advantage of, there comes a time when it needs to cease.

Marylou was a divorced mom of three children and in order for her to provide for her children, her parents, Ed and Margaret opted to be the childcare providers. As Marylou’s kids grew and became parents, Ed and Margaret continued to care for their great grandchildren, until Margaret fell carrying her infant great grandchild through the house. Ed was in the garden for several hours and Margaret lay unconscious on the floor while the infant laid face down screaming.

This is reality and though Marylou’s daughter was upset her grandmother had fallen, she did not opt to seek childcare on a grander level.

Equally, Ed and Margaret were upset. Margaret’s hip was broken and their devotion to their grand daughter made it hard to discontinue as child care providers. It’s time for the roles to reverse.

Learning to look and recognize the signs of aging parents, then accepting the responsibility that the roles are reversing is important. Aging parents may not want to give up their current responsibilities and pushing them into something they aren’t ready for can be equally as detrimental. Therefore, start now recognizing the positions your elder parents might have.

Are they over age 70? And though they may be in good health, is age 70 a fair age for them to be managing the affairs of their children and grand children?  Pay attention to their size and frame build. Aging parents generally begin to thin, and their bones become more brittle. Look at their eating habits, and the amount of time they sleep. Then take note. Is it time to reverse the role and allow them the freedom to enjoy their golden years without risk of injury or frustration.

Talk with aging parents and find out what you can do to assist them. Begin to introduce the idea of having them “pampered” a bit as they grow older. Perhaps allow someone to come into their home once or twice a month to help clean or run errands. Introduce them to a company like Comfort Keepers and as their health begins to decline they’ll be more apt to accept outside help.

Be a considerate adult child. Return the love, attention and care that your parents have freely given to you through the years. Is it time to reverse the role?