Senior Citizen Care Is In The News!

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The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that,

A North Carolina woman reportedly dumped an elderly relative at a shelter in Bradenton on the way to Walt Disney World. Beverly Edwards is said to have dropped her aunt, Ruth Smith, at a Salvation Army homeless shelter Sunday evening — while indicating that she would not be returning to pick up the 96-year-old. Edwards, who told staff at the shelter that she could no longer care for the elderly woman…

Shocking and sad news that has left many asking, “Why?” At first glance it is so easy for us to pass judgment on this family. “How dare they do this to that sweet old lady?” However, it is important for us to stop and think it through.

For one thing, we need to remember that just because something is in the newspaper it isn’t necessarily totally true or accurate. We can probably all think of one or two important news stories in the past year or so where the facts proved that the reporters embellished or just plain made up all or part of the story.

I saw that in action 20 years ago when the church I was attending bought a quaint old building for their church home. Because of the uniqueness of the building, more newspaper stories were written about our church move than the norm. It was fascinating reading those articles as an “insider.” Names, dates, and activities – you name it, there were plenty of things that needed correcting!

I learned from that to take everything I read with a grain of salt and to find plenty of corroborating information before believing a lot of that. One of my goals for SandwichINK is to verify information as much as possible before sharing it, even when I’m just passing on links 🙂 And if you ever find something here that needs correcting, do let me know. I appreciate the “extra eyes.”

Another side of this multi-faceted story is the sweet old lady. I am blessed with several senior citizens in my life and they are all wonderful and truly sweet. I have known some elderly people, though, who are anything but sweet. Not only that, dementia or heavy doses of necessary medications can turn a sweet adult into someone no one would want to be around. I saw that happen to a dear friend of mine.  For two weeks I thought I would never have my friend back again. Then the doctor finally found a medication that she could tolerate and it was like night and day. She was once again sweet and caring, and I can’t tell you how happy I was!

For many families dealing with a patient who is in the fog of dementia, they may never see their beloved get better. It only gets worse. Dealing with an elderly parent with dementia year after year is so very difficult, physically and emotionally. My parents cared for an elderly aunt for several years. I have always had the greatest admiration for them and the wonderful attitude they had in dealing with her. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t perfect. They got discouraged, frustrated, and depressed. But they kept on going, and set an example for me that I continue to strive to copy to this day. As a teenager, I’m afraid I wasn’t that much help to them then. I’m grateful I got a second chance with them and am happy to report I’m doing much better, though I’m not perfect either. Not by a long shot! Come to think of it, no one is, except our precious Lord Jesus!  🙂

We don’t know much about this family. We don’t know if they were struggling with their circumstances, if they were feeling alone and depressed, if the aunt was in more need than they could provide, or if they really were as heartless as the newspaper reports make them appear.

What we do know and what I would encourage you to think about today, is that caregivers need to be proactive about taking steps to avoid burnout. For the sake of the patient AND for the sake of the caregiver.

It’s important for each of us to make sure we build a network of people who can help us in our elder care-giving journey. Relatives, friends, and people from our church can all do little things that can help make our burden lighter if we let them. I was so blessed when my dad was on hospice. My daughters and sons-in-law all helped wonderfully. They ran errands, helped with giving medications, and even took turns spending the night when we needed extra assistance.

Not everyone has extended family close by and it is sometimes hard to build and maintain relationships when your caregiving duties are keeping you extremely busy. This is especially true for the Sandwich Generation! Often we are dealing with the care of our elderly parents AND with kids or grandkids AND with work AND with spouses… It can really be overwhelming.

I always encourage people to start with their church home. Many of the larger churches have a full-on senior citizen ministry. Some offer help for repairs around the house as a ministry to the elderly. If money is extra tight due to all the added medical bills, they might even be able to help out with canned goods or a small grant.

Senior citizen nonprofit groups can be found in many cities. They, too, can be a great resource to help families. In this economy, it is getting harder. There may be more forms and longer waits. It can be worth it though. It’s certainly worth checking into.

Meals on Wheels can be a wonderful help to both the elderly parent and the Senior caregiver. They provide a full and healthy meal once a day and the cost is very low. If money is an issue, there may even be an option for a grant. Many aging parents are eating less and find that one meal fills them up twice a day. Not only that, if your aging parent lives alone, it gives you the comfort of knowing someone else is checking on them once a day.

The internet certainly is a big help in providing friends for caregivers who can’t get out very much. There are many excellent sites who specialize in helping caregivers with counseling, resources, and links to other great info. You can find many great resources here at SandwichINK, starting with yesterday’s Boomers & Seniors Blog Carnival.

Make sure you are taking good care of yourself physically and emotionally! Walking daily can be a great way to exercise, as well as lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and stress levels. Prayer and meditation has been proven to be very helpful at keeping stress at bay. God is good and His Word is overflowing with His love, comfort and promises. Chewing on a verse or two daily can really help drive away anger, fear, and depression.

Caregiving is not the easiest job in the world. It can, however, be extremely rewarding. Just be sure that you are getting plenty of help, availing yourself of the resources that are out there, and taking good care of yourself, so that you can keep taking good care of your beloved elderly parents. And when you’re praying and meditating on God’s Word, pray for the family in the newspaper and for caregivers everywhere. We can always use extra prayer!  🙂

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  1. RT @SandwichINK So important for elder care-givers to take care of themselves …to care for their elderly parents!

    • Julie Arduini The Surrendered Scribe
    • June 1, 2009

    This is such a good article. I know at first glance I was a bit aggravated because it read “on her way to Disney”. But as you wrote, I remember my days being affiliated with the Office for the Aging. I saw what dementia and medication can do, as well as just plain ole mean personality!

    Caregiving is exhausting, I can not imagine anyone doing without a ton of support.

    Thank you for shedding light on this!

  2. Hi Julie, You aren’t kidding! Support is so important in this situation! 🙂 Thanks for popping by 🙂 🙂 🙂

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