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Caring for Loved Ones: Less is Best

Barbara Friesner, Eldercare Expert for the National Association of Baby Boomer Women and Founder of www.AgeWiseLiving.com, reports that, according to the 2006 MetLife Mature Market Institute® survey, the majority of family caregivers (79%) are providing care to someone over the age of 50. In addition, nearly 60% of those caring for an adult over the age of 50 are working; the majority of those work full-time.

Care giving can become an emotional and physical drain if we allow it. At one time, women stayed home and cared for all family members, but that’s certainly no longer the case. I must admit, there are days I think of selling my business so I can help take care of my family members in need without the stress of getting all my work accomplished. But nowadays, who can afford to do that?

Baby boomers are often referred to as the sandwich generation because we are tending to our elders while caring for our children at the same time. I like to refer to us as the club sandwich generation because many boomers are now caring for grandchildren. It appears to me, that with the current economy, we’ll be giving more care because less people can afford the expenditure due to shrinking portfolios. People are looking for ways to downsize and spend less. In the area of care giving, I’m learning that less is best. I’m not talking about giving less care. Let me explain.

I’m involved with care giving tasks for two elderly loved ones. One is currently living alone and needs someone to check on him each morning. Later in the day, he needs help with meals, errands, doctor visits, etc. The other resides in an assisted living community. He doesn’t need much care, but certainly benefits from many visits a week, and occasional outings.

I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on about caring for the elderly. I’ve met with an eldercare counselor, listened to teleseminars, spent time in an assisted living facility, spoken to many caregivers, and I’ve come to a conclusion – it all boils down to less is best.

Here are 10 helpful less is best tips that will assist you in your care giving tasks:

  • Have few clothing options for the elderly; set out one outfit for the day.
  • Offer two food choices for each meal.
  • De-clutter the surroundings – too much clutter adds to the confusion.
  • Use few words while giving instruction.
  • Have fewer interruptions. Be patient and don’t interrupt.
  • Ask fewer questions about the here and now, and inquire more about the good old days.
  • Talk less and listen more.
  • Give up trying to make your point and have more understanding of their inability to converse as they once did.
  • Show less concern about behavior, and more understanding about why they are acting as they do.
  • Have as few caregivers as possible. Too many different people add to their confusion.

I’m learning that it’s easier to care for the elderly when there is less confusion in their lives. I hope the above tips help you while showing love to the Greatest Generation. They deserve it. After all, they are who gave us life.

Dotsie Bregel NABBW Founder and CEO
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Expert Columns
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