What is consistently felt by those of us caring for our elders? STRESS!! Eldercare lands in our lap like an elephant. It’s big, heavy and hard to ignore. We usually find that eldercare causes us to feel overwhelmed and our stress levels go up. What can we do to ratchet down the stress? Do one thing every day.
What do you mean – you say? Well, doing one small task every day to stay ahead of the elder emergencies can make the difference between being in panic mode and being in care mode when your elder needs you.
What kinds of things can be done one at a time?
- Check your elder’s medications to see if any of them need to be refilled.
- Walk around your elder’s residence looking for tripping hazards.
- Call the local senior center and inquire about what programs are available that your elder might enjoy.
- Put the next doctor appointment (or any medical care appointment) on your calendar and write it on your elder’s calendar too.
- Make a note in your to-do list to fax or call the medical provider’s office a few days prior to your elder’s appointment to say that you won’t be able to attend with your elder but you’d like to get a visit summary from the office.
- Compare your list of elder’s meds to the bottles in their house to make sure your list is up-to-date.
- Schedule a visit to a retirement community with your elder – just to see what it is like.
- Dig out a copy of your Power of Attorney for your elder.
- Make sure you have a copy of the new Medicare card that was sent to your elder in the last year.
- Stop by and introduce yourself to one of your elder’s neighbors. Exchange phone and contact information should you have a question or they need to get to you in an emergency.
- Take your elder on a shopping trip to get some new shoes, or new underwear or new pajamas.Everyone needs a refresher on these sometime and elders tend to keep these until after their useful life.
- Sit down with your elder and go through a photo album, writing down the names of the people in the pictures on the back of the photo.
- Listen to some of your elder’s favorite music and ask them which songs soothe them the most.
- Spend an afternoon in your elder’s yard, trimming, raking and refreshing the flower beds.
- Make a spare key to your elder’s home.
- Make a donation run of old blankets and towels to your local animal shelter. Invite your elder to go along with you. They won’t feel so badly about donating their old stuff when they see the adorable animals.
- Invite your mother-in-law to visit the local adult day program, so that she can see where your father-in-law with early dementia could go for a stimulating day.
- Take a fruit or veggie tray (or cupcakes) to the aides at your elder’s residence community. Sit down with them on break and ask how your elder is doing. They are the best sources of real information you can get.
I could go on and on. Do one simple task per day. After a couple of weeks, you’ll feel like you have accomplished so much. Even if you average one task every other day, you’ll still feel better. These things add up. Each one delays or even prevents the dreaded elder emergencies. They leave you closer to care mode when the emergency does occur.
I know you don’t have much time. I get it. I really do. One small thing – one phone call, one calendar entry, one afternoon’s worth of time. They add up to an overall stress reduction and the “overwhelming meter” goes down a notch.
That’s the real goal after all. When you stay less stressed, you enjoy the journey more and so does your elder. Now it’s time for a piece of pie.