Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!
Topic: Take the Blinders Off-Your Parents Are Aging!
I am the first to admit; I looked the other way as my mother was aging. The first sign I could recall was her getting dentures in her sixties(I’m sixty-ish now). Grateful I have all my teeth, top and bottom. Never compared teeth to aging…have you? When you are young, you do not consider life without your parents. My daddy died at 46 years old. That is young by many standards. He went to work, came home, and enjoyed lying on the floor in front of the television watching combat shows. His favorite war show was Pork Chop Hill. Pork Chop Hill was the Final Battle of the Korean War(1953).
Sidebar: Daddy died April 20,1965-Mommy died August 20, 2017.
I often share with others that you are training to be someone’s caregiver. Humankind is a part of our reality. We have parents; we have children; we have siblings and extended family members. Watching their life journey can sometimes give clues about what is to come. We all can agree that if we keep saying good morning and good night, we will age. It’s called the circle of life. Along the way, our bodies break down and slow down, sometimes simultaneously. It is tough to watch our loved ones get older before our eyes. New Flash… It’s coming!
So should we prepare, or should we wait for the mic to drop? Honestly, I say…becoming a caregiver offers warning signs. Maybe the warning signs are hospitalizations, falls, the mixing up of medications, car accidents or God forbid, a house fire. Whatever the particulars are, we must remove the blinders and deal with the reality of our family circle. The actions and patterns of those we love need first acknowledgment,(I see you are having trouble walking) and at times actions to avoid harmful outcomes. Yes, I am asking you to become proactive and self-aware of the role you may find yourself in one day — embrace it versus running from it. If you notice the many signs that occur, you will be better prepared to step into the caregiving space, less stressed, and less unsure of yourself. Many caregivers I speak with are overwhelmed because they wore blinders until they could no longer wear them. If a loved one is taking medications, for example, that is unfamiliar to you, take time to learn the what, why, and how often and any side effects. This is a proactive action step. The scheduling of annual doctor appointments is a proactive step. Ask essential questions to gain knowledge. This is a proactive step. This step will decrease fears, surprises, frustrations, and injuries. So much of this is geared toward your overall health and well-being.
As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, getting a good look at the big picture requires that you take the blinders off… however scary it may be; it will provide you with a keen understanding of your role and responsibility.