This past year has been a great experience again for me, working with our elderly seniors and their families.
Today’s column is a summary of what I’ve talked about and learned over the past 12 months, things that seniors and their family members who support them need to be aware of or think about heading into 2012.
I am contacted by many burnt out family caregivers, frustrated because they don’t know how start to care for their elderly loved ones.
Like the people they look after, these caregivers need to be taken care of. It is great to see that more sons are becoming more supportive as caregivers for their parents, although the daughters still form the majority of caregivers today.
As well, many active seniors over the age of 80 would benefit by moving into supportive housing, but there is often a resistance to giving up their own home.
I know of seniors who have felt this way—until they settled into their new lifestyle in supportive housing, and then their lifestyle suddenly blossomed.
For one, a major stress is removed from the family. But it’s extremely important that seniors move into supportive housing facilities that meets their needs, for there is an emotional and financial cost if that doesn’t happen.
Seniors also need to be responsible when driving electric scooters on our streets and sidewalks, to be visible to other drivers.
Identification information should be on two or three different locations of the scooter, so if the scooter topples over and the senior can’t be moved, the police or ambulance attendants can still find relevant information.
A trip to the emergency room is always unexpected, so certain paperwork should be prepared with current information. This information should be given immediately to the emergency room staff. It should include a list of the current medications, chronic conditions, past surgeries, allergies and a list of their medical doctors.
Include details of the emergency contact person and a copy of the No Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (NCR) form if there is one. Also, have a current large colour picture of the senior, which can be helpful to ER staff.
Seniors must have their legal documents ready for if something happens to them, documents that are signed when they have the mental capacity to do so—a Will, a Power of Attorney and a Representative Agreement.
There should also be a discussion about the NCR form. It’s common that neither seniors or their family members want to discuss the NCR, but it’s a discussion that needs to take place.
Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.