What a baby boomer needs to understand about aging, their parents, and themselves as they take on the role of being a care provider
1. Parents do not want to be a burden or an inconvenience to their kids. They also do not want to be a spectacle. Placing them into a chair and then fussing over them while moving them up-to the table is embarrassing. Joy comes from blending in and just being part of the group.
2. Today’s seniors grew up between the 1920’s and 1940’s. They were taught self-reliance. Waiting for someone to assist them is not in their nature. Are they just being stubborn or self-determined?
3. To many seniors, the wheelchair is simply one appliance before the gurney. Anytime they can use a standard dining chair, they can experience an increased sense of dignity and self-worth.
4. Words matter. Senior, resident, patient, or mobility challenged are not encouraging terms to many. Why not just grandparent, mom/dad, friend, uncle/aunt, cousin?
5. A dining chair that truly meets the needs of a person with limited mobility must be designed not with the seated person in mind, but the caregiver. It is because of a loved one’s reduced mobility that such chairs are being considered, but in reality, the chair is required for the caregiver since the burden of moving the loved one up to or away from table is eliminated.
6. “Mobility = Independence = Self-worth. Immobility = Dependence = Lack of Self-worth.” Personal challenges surrounding the issue of aging are not really about the loss of mobility; rather, it is more about the loss of self-worth and independence caused as a result of being immobile.
7. Often times, aging in place involves couples caring for each other. Even when one partner requires assistance, living at home can continue as long as the other partner remains healthy and active. Preventing injury to the caring partner becomes an essential. In reality, seniors need to be proactive to ensure that they remain physically active for as long as possible. Preventing injury is an important component of aging in place.
8. "I did not realize mealtime would be so challenging.” Whether it’s someone who has recently lost some of their mobility or it’s a family member given the responsibility of caring for their loved one at home, one reality often sets in: the challenge of daily mealtime is greater than imagined.
9. Mealtimes provide a unique opportunity to build up the self-worth and esteem of an aging parent. Much of the care provided by a caregiver is performed out of the sight of others. It often includes undignified yet necessary tasks which may feel humiliating to some. However, the dining table provides an open, public place whereby the dignity and self-worth of a senior can be reinforced and encouraged.