Caregivers Corner

Caregivers Corner

Talking with your Aging Loved one about Driving

Initiating a conversation about safe driving with an aging adult is a challenge for you the caregiver, especially if it is your parent. Worries of offending or alienating them are normal. There is no easy or simple way to address this subject. I will share some steps to take that have worked for me.

Respectful communication is key. No one wants to be called a dangerous driver, regardless of age. Sometimes you need to recognize the right moment and gently state your opinions. As you seize this moment, mention the alternatives for keeping them on the go and the benefits of letting someone else deal with the traffic we sometimes refer to as the “Demolition Derby”.

Keep the discussion between you and your parent first. I have found that including the family in sensitive subjects comes off as an intervention. Feeling disrespect and anger will always follow. I do speak from experience. Always remember, this is your parent and we must respect our elders, a long lost sentiment.

The facts are that older adults are safer drivers reducing their risk of injury by wearing seatbelts, obeying speed limits and not drinking and driving. However, medications, arthritis, weaker muscles and vision changes will influence their driving; such as the basic skills from turning the wheel to accelerating and braking. These are some keys to help you talk with your parent. Always try to keep your emotions in check.

Even though this calling of care giving can be challenging, we must do the right thing and care for the generation that cared for us.

Skilled Home Care and Unskilled Home Care

A reader writes; “Dad is scheduled to come home after a short hospital stay. What is the difference between Skilled Home Care and Unskilled Home Care?”

The difference between skilled home care and unskilled home care is not as complicated as we think it is. Doctors or hospital staffs often do not take the time to explain these differences and we are usually stressed or overwhelmed. It is important to understand the differences of these resources as you care for your aging loved one.

Skilled home care is doctor prescribed care that usually follows a surgery, injury or any hospital stay. A registered nurse examines you at the initial visit and coordinates your care with a medical team of professionals. Aging adults do not recover as quickly and often need physical therapy along with occupational or speech therapy. Some Skilled home care companies offer limited personal care which is beneficial when recuperating. This care is covered as long as your loved one is not able to drive or is homebound.

Unskilled home care is primarily private pay yet sometimes can be covered if doctor deems necessary. Unskilled, does not mean unqualified. You have an initial meeting and a custom care plan with trained staff is tailored to your loved one’s specific needs. As your loved one is recuperating or simply aging they will need help with activities of daily living. Unskilled home care includes, but is not limited to; house cleaning, laundry, bathing, eating, hygiene, dressing, companionship, medication reminders and more specific special care situations due to a disease. Usually at $20 per hour this is a very helpful resource to assist in the process of healing or aging in place. I recommend using a bonded and insured home care company to insure staff is trained and care is regulated.

I hope this helps you feel more empowered and wish you the best as you care for your aging loved one. Please contact me with any questions anytime.

Court the Strength of Family

Lisa’s Column in Northern News

Every family, at some point, faces the issue of caring for an aging loved one. It’s one of those topics that we avoid and do not want to face, but we know it will be on our plate someday. Most likely sooner than later.

As a caregiver of my father, I am passionate about the need to feel empowered and prepared as you tavel through the health care challenges. We want choices, resources and support so we can make the right decisions with or for our aging loved one(s).

Meetings with key family members can often help a family understand a situation better and make consensus decisions. I speak from experience. Accepting the individual strengths within a family and putting them to use that best suits the aging adult is the best recipe for sucess.