Women make up them majority of caregivers, taking on the responsibility of providing for aging parents. The nature of caregiving is an added stress, emotionally and often financially, for women who may still have children at home as well as careers and relationships to nurture.
We know it’s coming; our parents are growing older and will need help to stay independent. Yet, most of us don’t think about caregiving until we’re faced with it. The best thing we can do to prepare for our role as caregivers is to equip ourselves with information about aging and the newest technology that might help us keep loved ones safe. Reading about aging and specific illnesses, learning about available resources in the community and talking about the future with parents and siblings are all important things we can do.
In a recent survey conducted by VTech® Communications, caregivers and seniors were asked a variety of questions relating to aging and living independently. With over 91% of all seniors indicating that they spend time alone during the week the questions about safety for seniors take on an increased significance. Seniors reporting missing an active social life, while caregivers express more concern about the time when a senior is alone. What we worry about:
- Fall or injury (76.1 percent of caregivers and 33 percent of seniors)
- Medical event or injury requiring immediate assistance (60.8 percent of caregivers and 25.2 percent of seniors)
- Other general problems that seniors wouldn’t feel equipped to deal with alone (45.9 percent of caregivers and 14 percent of seniors)
This reflects my personal experience, both as a caregiver and from my time working for an aging in place agency. We tend to be more worried about safety issues than our parents. Not that we’re being unrealistic, but often seniors don’t see the reality of their situation and are reluctant to ask for help. Pride, a desire to remain in their home and, for some, diminished intellectual capacity are at play. It’s emotionally draining to be ever-vigilant and trying to convince a parent to make changes can result in tensions.
What do we do to achieve some peace of mind for both parties?
We have to learn to change our communications with our parents. Trying to put ourselves in their shoes, using empathy and finding a way to express concerns in a way that values and respects their autonomy. We need to look for practical answers for making home safer, by introducing safety aids and doing a comprehensive review of the home
One simple tool that can provide some peace of mind is a new phone designed specifically for this population. VTech, a maker of telecommunications products, has recently released the CareLine™ Home Safety Telephone System as a tool for helping seniors maintain an independent lifestyle. The product is a phone system that can be purchased with a wearable pendant. It’s more than just a phone, as you can program it with often-called numbers, add messages for the parent such as reminders of when to take medicines.
I like the idea of this phone as something a senior can use before they begin to experience issues associated with aging. The phone has large numbers, and can be programmed for 4 commonly used phone numbers with corresponding photos. The pendant can be added when concerns begin to grow as a parent’s mobility decreases. It seems like a tool that gives caregivers some peace of mind while preserving the dignity of an aging parent who isn’t ready for more drastic changes.
If you’re facing the role of caregiver for an aging parent, it’s not too early to begin learning about what’s available on the market and what you can do as the designated caregiver to make this easier. For both of you.
Are you already involved in caregiving? What are some of your biggest concerns?
My Disclaimer: As a caregiver myself, I occasionally participate in campaigns directed at providing advice, book reviews and products that support our work as caring for the people in our lives. I will never promote something I wouldn’t support personally. I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.