Have you ever considered the complex job of being a caregiver for an elderly individual? Did you know that in the United States, the vast majority of care that allows older people to live at home is provided by family members?
Imagine this scenario: you are an older adult, doing all the caregiving for a spouse with dementia. You are trying to keep your life-long partner at home. You have adult children, but they live hours away, or in a different state. Your spouse with dementia can no longer drive, manage finances, or cook. Your spouse is now having trouble with simple tasks, like showering. To make things more complicated, you just found out you have stage 1 cancer. Can you manage alone? Can you afford paid help? Are you able to ask others for help? Below are some of the many tasks caregivers provide.
-provide personal care (i.e., helping with a shower)
-do household chores (clean dishes, do laundry & vacuum)
-run errands (grocery shopping, purchasing supplies, clothing)
-manage all aspect of finances
-complete yard work, and home maintenance
-provide transportation (ie, to the doctor’s office, to church, to the pharmacy)
-keep a calendar up-to-date (this can become complex depending on the diagnosis)
-coordinate or arrange volunteer or paid services (i.e., sitters)
-take time to provide companionship (i.e., going for a ride to get a favorite treat)
-shop for birthday or holiday gifts for other family members
-do end-of-life planning (i.e. creating a Living Will, updating legal documents, or even pre-planning funeral arrangements)
Some caregivers do all of this, with no help at all. It is easy to see how a spouse who is elderly, could easily become anxious, over-whelmed, depressed, and sheer exhausted- placing their physical or mental well-being on the “back burner”. Let us all take the time to reach out to the elderly we see at our place of worship, in our neighborhood, through or work, or in our extended community and ask how they are doing? Could they use some help? Or perhaps don’t ask, just bring over some cookies and start a conversation to show you care.