By Judi Bonilla
Most of us now drive the freeways or board a plane instead of “Sobre las colinas y por el bosque” (Over the hills and through the woods) to grandmother’s house we go. Similar to the song we may have learned as a child, the holidays have changed.
For some of us, we visit our parents and wonder how much longer they can remain safely in their homes. For others, we no longer visit our parents, they are now living with us. Then there are those visiting their parents and thinking, I’m so grateful my parents continue to remain independent. “That’s how I want to grow older.” Such is the cycle of aging and caregiving.
How do you handle each of these stages of family life? By accepting them.
Know you are not the only one experiencing changes within your family. It’s estimated nearly 10,000 people turn 65 every day, many of them with aging parents. Spending time with your familia over the holidays can give you the much needed insight into the overall health of toda familia members and create stronger family connections.
Use the time wisely.
Use “POP” To Enjoy The Holidays
• Plan – Plan to ask those questions you have been thinking about. Ask aging family members about your family history. Armed with a cellphone you can create a library of how your family came to be. More importantly use this time to listen and truly hear what your family members are saying. Note: In my work teaching older adults how to improve their communication skills one of their biggest questions is how to get their children to listen to them!
• Observe – Observe how your aging family member is moving in and outside of their environment. Aging adults want to remain independent as long as possible and your role may be to encourage them on how to remain safely in their home and community. Is their home fall-proof?
Loose cords, poor lighting, and most importantly medication side effects or drug interactions* can be a dangerous combination. The single biggest reason many older adults lose their independence is through a fall. Make sure their home is fall-proof**.
Are they driving safely? Take a drive. Yes buckle up and find out how well your family member is driving. Does it need improvement?*** How much time are they spending alone? Senior Centers have changed and many now have a community focus. This multi generational approach offers a variety of programming. Zumba lessons and life-long classes can get your loved one moving and socializing. Recent studies say, both activities show signs of staving off dementia.
• Prepare – Whether your family member lives with you or remains in their home find out about community resources that can help your family member “age in place”. Check the eldercarelocator for healthy aging, in-home services, and transportation resources. Remember aging is dynamic and for caregivers change is constant. Make sure you’re connected to the resources that can help you in each part of your journey.
For many of us “it takes caregiving to learn how to give care” using POP helps you through each caregiving transition. More importantly, accept the gift of knowing that one day you will be the Latino elder.
Use the holidays to build strengthen and cultivate the connections that make caregiving from the heart.
* Medication Review – This is a private no charge consultation with a pharmacist that can be conducted at any pharmacy. Bring all medications your family member is taking. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbs, teas, and natural supplements. Also, bring a list of questions. For example, what to do if you forget to take your medication, why do I have to take medication at night, and is it safe to take cold medication with my prescription. Call your pharmacy ahead of time to request bilingual services.
** Fall Prevention – Use StopFalls to understand how to prevent risk of falls inside and outside the home.
*** AARP Driver Safety Course – AARP offers refresher courses for adults age 50 and over. This classroom course covers safety tips for safer driving. The cost ranges from $15.95 for members to $19.95 for non members. For classes bilingual classes AARP Driver Safety Course Espanol