Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Caregivers’ Journey

Go Ahead; Toot Your Horn
by Marsha Kay Seff

As a caregiver for your elderly parents, having a big mouth is an asset. If you don’t already have one, you might want to develop one. Because opening your mouth – shouting until someone hears what you’re saying – is one of the biggest parts of being a caregiver.

You are your parents’ advocate now. When they’re too ill to speak for themselves or can’t recall what they wanted to say, you need to speak up.

That doesn’t mean you ignore their wishes. Understanding what they want is the first step in getting what they need. Unfortunately, too many people, including their own doctors, write off all older folks as being daffy. When the world ignores your loved ones, you need to remind people that older folks need to be treated with respect.

Once, when I accompanied my late mom on a doctor’s visit, her doctor began ignoring her and talking to me. I pointed out that he needed to include her in the conversation, that her brain was probably working better than my stressed-out gray matter.

As a dutiful daughter, it seemed I was always advocating for my aging parents.

I’m sure I drove the staff at my mother’s retirement home crazy looking out for her. But when I asked the administrator about it, he said the staff naturally tended to take better care of residents whose families were involved in their lives.

When a woman at mom’s health insurance company refused to talk to me on the phone about my mother’s bill, which I’d always paid, I hung up and promptly redialed – and introduced myself as my mother. I did the same thing with many businesses and government agencies. It was harder with dad – my voice is too high – but I learned to work around that. I got what I needed.

I learned to work around a lot of things during the 12 years I was my parents’ dutiful daughter, their best friend and their liaison with a not-always-receptive world.

Sponsored by Right at Home, In-Home Care & Assistance, www.rahlajolla.com, (858) 277-5900, info@rahlajolla.com . Contact Marsha Kay Seff at mseff@gmail.com.

1 comment:

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