by Joe Pomento
Source: People Interactive
Several years ago, Trish Gonzales wasn't sure where to turn.
Her parents were getting older and gradually needed more care. For Trish, a senior human resources analyst in Employee Relations, and for a growing number of Metropolitan employees, the question is where to turn for information.
Ask a co-worker about children’s daycare and you will easily get two or three suggestions. Ask about eldercare and you are more likely to get a questioning look than a referral.
According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, one in eight residents was over the age of 65 in 2002. By 2030, that number will top one in five.
"Most of the information I was able to gather was by word of mouth," Trish said. "The valuable information that I learned enabled me to assist others who are finding themselves in a similar situation."
For Trish, the recent Lunch Money Series presentation on eldercare was an eye-opening experience. Not only did it provide information on the resources she needed, but she also saw that she wasn’t going through this alone. Many of her co-workers shared the same concerns as they took on alien roles of being caregivers for aging parents.
About 80 employees attended a recent Lunch Money Series presentation by Irene Wechsler, founder of ELDERLINK, a free senior referral service, who provided resources on where employees could get information on the appropriate care for aging parents.
As your parents age, the traditional parent-child role undergoes some dramatic changes, Wechsler said. It’s not that easy to become the parent when you have been the child all your life.
"It is difficult being the caregiver," Trish said. "It’s a different challenge. That part is frustrating. I didn't know where to begin.
"If I had to give advice to a friend, it would be similar to what Irene [Wechsler] told employees," Trish added. "Start thinking about it now. You need to begin preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for the future. Start doing your research now and getting information so that when the time comes, it won’t be such a shock. If you want the transition to go as smoothly as possible, I suggest you begin to build, if you don't have one already, a trusting relationship with your parents."
Trust, Wechsler said, is necessary for you to have the information you need to provide the best care for older parents. You need to know where your parents have their bank accounts; what doctors they see; a list of all medications they may take; their attorney; and make sure to get the proper legal documents so they can ensure that your parents' wishes are carried out. Don't wait until the last minute to collect this information.
Trish’s advice: have patience and be compassionate and considerate, and understand your parents’ feelings. It will be as much a major adjustment for them as it will be for you.