Employee and Family
CMR Canada - Employee and Family Assistance Programs Head Office: Suite 600, Bow Valley Square 4, 250 - 6 Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P3H7 Telephone (403) 263-2200 Fax (403) 256-8291 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
You and Your Aging Parents
Becoming a caregiver to parents involves major changes for all concerned - physically, emotionally, socially and financially. Learning to cope with the changes in a healthy way is important to ensure you and your aging parents can live in a mutually loving and giving relationship.
If you are concerned about your relationship with your aging parents, we hope this publication will help you and your parents adjust to your new roles.
THE CHANGING PICTURE OF AGING
People today live longer than ever before. Most of us will spend nearly one third of our life as "retirees" or "senior citizens". Four or even five-generation families are no longer unheard of.
But as we live longer, the chances grow that we will some day need help caring for ourselves. Today, many adult daughters and sons find themselves called upon to help care for their aging parents. The commitment they have to make may be for a short time or it may last for years. It changes the roles, responsibilities and feelings within the family and can be complicated and confusing.
HOW TO KEEP THE QUALITY IN FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
At the same time, caring for an aging parent can also benefit the family. It can bridge the gaps among generations. Family support systems can be strengthened as members learn to prepare themselves for their own aging. How can you get the best out of this new relationship?
WHAT CAN YOU DO ' FOR YOUR PARENTS?
Care-giving involves difficult decisions which should be handled with as much thought and discussion as possible. Do not jump into drastic changes, like having your parent move into your home, because you feel guilty or pressured, or as a "quick fix". Be realistic about your own abilities, desires and limitations, as well as those of your family members. Weigh the options carefully.
Consider these issues as you take on increased care of your parent: · What can your parents reasonably expect from you?
WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR YOURSELF?
To cope well, it helps to separate the "person" (your parent) from the "process" (normal aging).
Beware of stereotypes -both you and your parent need to be on guard against the myth that old age is an illness. This is far from true. Most seniors are well, active and mentally fit. Some changes normally occur as we age. For example, we experience a gradual need for more light, a decreased hearing range, changes in the sense of taste and smell, and a general decrease in the efficiency of the body's organs and systems. Adapting to these changes is easier once we understand them.
You may find yourself feeling trapped and guilty as you try to juggle the multiple demands, stresses and responsibilities of your new situation. This can threaten not only your health, but your marriage, job, relationship with your children, and financial security. Be on the lookout for signs of stress and burnout. Symptoms may include: depression, constant fatigue, poor concentration, hostility, low self-esteem and / or physical illness.
You may need to pay more attention to your own independence. Do not become too involved in your parents' day-to-day activities at the expense of your own independence. Talk to them honestly and confidently about your needs and feelings while listening to and respecting what they have to say about theirs.
Caregivers often lack role models. Joining a caregiver group where you can share ideas, information, concerns and support can be invaluable. A caregiver group can also help you develop skills such as assertiveness and stress management, and teach you how to express your feelings.
WHAT IF YOUR PARENT BECOMES ILL?
Although most older adults are well and active, some medical problems are more common in later years - illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, cancer and dementia.
You can help by accepting the diagnosis, disheartening as this may be, and by acknowledging your parent's fears and anxiety about it. Denying the seriousness of the illness may block the communication that you and your parent need at this difficult time.
Mental health is as important for older adults as it is for everyone else. We all need self-esteem and a sense of independence. Depression is a risk of older age, particularly when one has suffered losses. Depression may be part of a physical illness or an effect of medication. As a family member, you may be able to spot signs of emotional, mental or behavioral change that point to depression. It can be treated successfully - do not settle for the excuse that "it's just old age".
Coping with a parent with dementia (such as Alzheimer's Disease) is one of the most difficult challenges one can face. It is vital to draw upon all support systems -professional and informal - to help you and your parent through the hardship. Knowledge and expertise in this field are increasing rapidly and can help you and your parent enjoy the best possible quality of life.
If, together, you decide a care facility is the best option, take the time to explore the choices, talk with staff, and involve your parent. Expect a period of adjustment to the change, for both of you. Try to avoid dwelling on feelings of guilt or failure; focus on the benefits of the new arrangement.
Giving your parent love and care is good for both of you. It is easier if you both take advantage of health, financial, legal, housing and recreational support services. Most communities have well developed services for older adults.
DO YOU NEED MORE HELP?
If you are dealing with aging parents and feel you need more assistance than friends and family can provide, contact your Employee and Family Assistance Program at 263-2200 in Calgary or 1-800-567-9953 from elsewhere for additional support.
Edited by: CMR Canada Source: Canadian Mental Health Association
Setting the example:
"I commit to you that I will this year take at least two weeks away from work instead of my usual one week".
........... President, Calgary based international energy company while meeting with managers.
actors that haven't seen each other in several weeks run in to
each other on the street.
While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my four-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds.
She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs.
One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, "The tooth fairy will never believe this!"
For more information on this and other subjects go to Interventions Archive. The EFAP assists you and your family resolve personal problems and maintain healthy and productive lives.
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CMR Canada, a national EFAP management firm founded in Alberta in 1990, delivers programs and services that enhance the health and performance capability of individuals and organizations. The firm delivers services to individuals plus their families in organizations located throughout Alberta - Municipal Governments, Hospitals, Unions, Universities, and Corporations and the General Public.
Interventions, the EFAP Journal of CMR Canada, is available to clients without cost.
CMR's organization is simple, efficient, and highly effective leaving the majority of resources, financial and human, to provide service to clients and their families. The firm has extensive experience in designing, implementing, resourcing, evaluating, and managing Assistance Programs.
CMR has an unlimited supply of qualified professionals to engage as needed. Professionals are partnered or on contract to CMR. Included are Psychologists, Registered Social Workers, Family Therapists, Crisis Counsellors, Career Counsellors, and Certified Human Resource Professionals.
Working principles: keep the business small; deliver extraordinary personal service; keep the costs low. This highly efficient and effective business model allows CMR to deliver high quality programs and services at lower cost with increased accountability - and select the most experienced and capable professionals.
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CMR Canada - Employee and Family Assistance Programs
Head Office Suite 3500, Bow Valley Square 2 205 - 5 Avenue SW Calgary, Alberta T2P2V7 Telephone (403)263-2200 in Calgary, or 1-800-567-9953 from elsewhere Fax (403)256-8291 E-Mail: CMR Canada
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