Last fall Jane Gross, journalist and author of A Bittersweet Season, spoke about her experiences supporting and caring for her elderly mother. The presentation at Brethren Village, a retirement community in Lancaster, PA, shares observations, experiences, things she wishes she had done, and much more.
If you provide caregiving support to a family member, take a few minutes to read a short article about Five Facts About Family Caregivers at the Pew Research Center website. The short article offers details from a survey that collected information about participants’ views concerning caring for aging parents, part of a larger Pew project that focused on Family Support in Graying Societies.The image at right is one of the graphs from the article.
The information presented in this report includes data collected from participants about their views on family caregiving in the United States including:
- the different people for whom family members provide care;
- the ages at which people are most likely to become caregivers;
- that most family caregivers are unpaid and not providing financial aid to the family member for whom they offer support;
- how emotional support appears to be a significant part of the caregiving responsibilities; and
- the rewards and stress that caregivers experience.
In addition to the graph at the right, the article features several more images that depict survey data and much more information, especially if you click to look at the more comprehensive report. Pew reports that surveys were conducted from October to December 2014 among 1,692 adults in the United States, 1,700 in Germany, and 1,516 in Italy.
When we think about dying, about the end of our lives, we may look to the experts for guidance — to those people who have long experience with various aspects of aging and the medical issues that complicate the process of dying. We assume that these people have their own end of life details all worked out.
Robert N. Butler, M.D., the founding director of the National Institute on Aging, and his wife, Myrna Lewis, a social worker who specialized in support for older women, had all of the details worked out, and they shared all of this information with their daughter. Their preparations, so well conceived and worked out, assumed that Dr. Butler would pass away before his wife, but this did not happen. Just like anyone else, these two experts were confused at the unexpected turn of events. Moreover, when his wife was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, it became clear that while they prepared and saw to the arrangements for the end-of-life, being prepared for death is a lot different than being ready to die.
In her article, Alexandra Butler writes that despite the uncertainty and challenge of watching her parents die, she was very glad that they had made the preparations for palliative care with no extraordinary interventions.
No one wants to die. Some people handle this by avoiding the topic — and the preparations. Others handle it by speaking incessantly about the expectation of dying. Still others, work hard to ensure that each minute detail is in place, so that family members spend time saying good-bye. Dr. Butler, who is also the individual who coined the term ageism, was prepared, but as his daughter points out, he was not ready.
- Our deaths are the last message we leave for those we love.
- In a world where so many of our fellow human beings live with threats of terror and destruction, if you are lucky enough to imaging you might have any measure of control over how you die, that is a privilege that would not go to waste.
Alexander Butler’s perspective offers support and encouragement to those of us — adult children and aging parents — as we navigate the the final years of aging.
Adult children should check out the October 2013 New York Times Well Blog article, What’s Your Fitness Age? The piece by Gretchen Reynolds shares information about the concept of fitness age — it can differ significantly from an individual’s chronological age — and how researchers calculate the measurement for individuals.
Reynolds points out in the article that, while we cannot change our chronological age, we can do things that improve our fitness age. The research took place at a Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim with results published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (abstract), a journal published by the American College of Sports Medicine. Continue reading
Check out Michelle Singletary’s Washington Post column, Let’s Band Together to Stop Scammers, a terrific piece that appeared today (September 28, 2014) and a perfect follow-up to my most recent blog post, Windows Security Fraud Phone Calls.
My piece shared a recent experience with a telephone caller who tried to get me to share personal information because of problems (fraudulent) on my computer. Singletary also shared information about a phone call that she received, and she also quoted many people who also experienced fraudulent scams or even fell for them.
Whether you are an aging parent or an adult child, this is an important column, because in addition to sharing her experience with a similar scammer’s phone call, Singletary also provides information about the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, a developing site at the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), that enables people to check out and ask questions about potential scams.
No one ever wants to think about the possibility of a nursing home. Yet long-term care may figure prominently in many of our lives.
The New York Times recently published two articles by Jane Brody about how to choose a nursing home community carefully. In part one, Nursing Home Unthinkable? Be Prepared in Case It’s Inevitable, she interviews people who point out how the biggest problem for most families is the timing — the necessity of choosing a nursing community with little time for discovery or preparation.
The piece presents a veritable checklist to help a family go about making a choice when true nursing care is required.
Best Quote in Part I
Nursing homes generally have had a bad reputation as smelly, indifferent places where people go to die. But “there are some homes that are better than being at home,” Ms. Leefer said in an interview. “And there are many more good facilities than bad ones.”