By Robert Williams
By the time I was 21, I had no grandparents that were still alive. It’s a weird phenomenon, listening to all my friends, peers, and co-workers talking about their family holiday’s at their grandparents’ houses. It is something that I have come to terms with, because it’s just the reality of the situation. Through this experience in my life, I have witnessed, first hand, what it means to care of an elderly person day in and day out. This is an experience every grown adult has to go through at some point. Everyone gets old. People become disabled; they become dependent on their loved ones to take care of them. This is a feat that is much easier said, than done.
It’s laborious, overwhelming, wearisome believe me, I know. There’s no amount of guilt that’s more crumbling than the guilt that comes from feeling this way about taking care of a loved one. It can tear a person down, from the inside out. I, myself, had to watch my mother take care of both my grandfather and grandmother. She was wracked with guilt when her schedule didn’t meet their needs. She spent every waking hour doing everything she should to take care of them, while still keep from letting our family fall apart at the seams.
It’s all about strategy. You need a game plan for this type of overwhelming responsibility. Let’s take a look at the game plan I mapped out for my Mom as she was going through one of the most difficult times in her life:
1. Always remain open and honest about how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, explain that to them. After allâ€¦they’re still your family, they’ll understand.
2. Make a weekly schedule with them. Plan out when you’ll be there and when you can’t be there. Show them everything else that’s on you schedule. This will alleviate your guilt for not being there to take care of them. Remember, unless they have an emergency button for elderly people, they will need very close attention.
3. Make a goal list with them. Every week, 7 things you want to get accomplished. Start with the small things, work up some momentum and tackle the more difficult items with a full head of steam!
4. Make sure they have the basics: Medical Alert Systems, necklaces they can wear, so that if they fall they can call for help via the emergency button , etc.
5. Always remember to tell them that you love them. Never forget that. Once they’re gone, you’ll know, that they knew.
In my experience, doing these things makes taking care of elderly loved ones that much easier, not only on you, but on them too.