Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Caregiving: For Yourself And For The One You Love

Welcome to this first day of the rest of your life. May this be the first day that you really understand you are no longer a youth, maybe not even a person of middle age, a person who has an endless wealth of time and health and does not really want to think about the future.

This brief essay is a wake-up call to ask you to open your eyes and see how you can avoid having those “golden years” of aging become an unhappy time. It is important that you begin thinking and planning now for a more realistic and maybe more carefree last stage of life for you and for your partner.

This is especially important for everyone because our local and federal governments are just beginning to understand the enormous impact of the “boomer” generation, a huge group of people who are living longer and stretching the nation’s resources and its ability to provide many vital services, such as:

• Proper health care – As health care costs rise for the individual and the community, new ways must be found to allow communities to provide and fund adequate care for the individual.

• Proper nutrition – An estimated four million older adults in the U.S. are unable to afford, prepare or gain access to a proper diet. Millions more are grossly overweight because of consuming too much of the wrong food, which leads to the increased need for health care.

• Proper exercise – Too few older adults get sufficient daily exercise, despite research showing that proper exercise greatly increases overall muscle strength, bone density, agility and general function. From grade schools to senior centers, all communities need to fund and support opportunities for exercise at all ages of life.

• Proper transportation alternatives – Reduced mobility can put an older person at higher risk for poor health, isolation and loneliness. Most Americans rely on their automobiles to have a good life, but as they age, reaction time slows and their ability to drive is seriously impaired. Communities need to provide specialized education and more public transportation to keep older persons mobile.

• Proper housing – Studies have shown that older adults overwhelmingly prefer to “age in place” in their existing homes and communities; they may, however, need to modify their existing home or move to another residence that is more accessible, more affordable or more appropriate in size to accommodate their changing needs. Older people need to know the opportunities available, and their communities need to provide proper and affordable choices.

This is only a partial list of concerns that face communities nationwide. There will be over seventy five million Americans who will soon reach their golden years, and they may find too little fun or funding at the end of their days. There is a great deal of information on these topics provided by many organizations;, is a good, helpful website to consult in order to follow new information as it’s being developed.

My next essay will be more specific and practical to your need and desires as you “Create A Plan Of Action For Your Golden Years”.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Caring For The One You Love

“I take you to be my lifelong partner, to have and
hold from this day forward, for better or for worse,
for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to
love and to cherish, until death do us part.”

Do these words sound familiar? Did you say them at your wedding? Did you think something similar when you decided that this special person is going to be your life partner for ever and ever? Do you still feel this loving commitment to your spouse? Have you committed yourself in an equally meaningful fashion to your aging parents or to a deeply loved friend?

When we make this wonderful, exciting, life changing decision, few of us think of that faraway time when we may not only be the mutually satisfying partner, best friend, or happy child of that loved one, but also his or her full time caregiver.

For every person who can no longer care for himself or herself because of aging, disease, dementia, or the myriads of other end-of-life difficulties, there is usually a caring, giving person who remains, with either the earnest desire or the obligation to care for the loved one who is now in ultimate need.

Fifty-two million people in America currently provide care to an adult partner, friend or family member. Nearly one out of every four households is the center of care giving for someone over age 50; an additional seven million Americans are long-distance caregivers for older relatives.

Are you ready for this life changing, often career ending experience? Is the person who will now be dependent on your daily care, ready to accept his or her new passive role in life?

It is important for all of us to begin thinking and planning for this final most important episode in life. It is necessary for you and your loved one to plan now for all the possibilities and to begin instituting procedures for all of the aging and end-of-life steps each of you will be required to take. Invite your loved one to go with you on this journey of ultimate discovery. You will both learn how to help one another as you grow older, wiser, and more self-reliant entering those final “golden years”.

And, of course, the extraordinary secret of our lives is that we never know until then who the caregiver will be and who will be the one that finally receives the care.

In the next few blogs, I will explore with you many helpful hints which can set both of your lives in order, so that you and the one you love will enjoy many happy, healthy, stress-free “golden years” together.