This week a friend of mine experienced a sudden change in her life when a parent had an injury during a fall. My friend suddenly became caregiver and care coordinator, while maintaining a demanding full-time job and being a mother and spouse. An organized, resourceful person, my friend finds herself in a new and stressful world. What is the nature of the team needed to support my parent and family as we adjust to the new circumstances? How much care can my family and I give? What do we need to manage transportation, assure safety, and assure the continued well-being of our family so we can keep healthy while being helpers?
How can I help my friend? The least I could do was research community care giving support options. The leads I provided didn’t align with her needs, but they opened doors to useful connections. Susannah Fox at the Pew Research Center referred to a survey in a blog post this week, When asked to think about the last time they went online for health or medical information, 39% of Internet users who have done this type of research say they looked for information related to their own situation. Another 39% say they looked for information related to someone else’s health or medical situation. And 15% of these Internet users say they were looking both on their own and someone else’s behalf. A drop of you’re not alone goes a long way.
In the midst of scurrying to readjust and provide care and support, how will this caregiver be sure that her parent’s voice is heard and that she remains the person in the center of care. Susannah Fox had a great quote in her post about caring for parents from a geriatrician who writes about caring for our parents the way Dr. Spock wrote about caring for babies: Listen to them, they’ll tell you what to do. How great is this: For a good overall picture of a parent’s condition, a child is well advised to ignore the usual medical and nursing jargon and to focus instead on the sound of the parent’s own voice. “No one,” Dr. McCullough says, “can be a bigger expert on a parent’s voice than a former teenager trained in the same household.”
Know someone who is a caregiver? Honor the caregivers, help the helpers.