Understanding Limits: Caring for the Elderly

Hello everyone:

When you are taking care of an elderly person, it is vital to know the limits to their energy. I have a dear friend who has cared for her mother for several years and she is wise enough to know how her mother’s abilities have faded. She has learned to make adjustments for them. Her mother’s world is getting smaller and smaller as time goes on.

I have had to learn the same lesson, as I visit with my father on a monthly basis. We no longer make 5 or 4 or 3 or 2 or even one walking ┬álap of the mall anymore. Walking across the parking lot to get to the mall in the first place has not been a reality for several years (even if it hadn’t been 106 degrees, effectively, yesterday!). His walker has sometimes turned into a wheelchair when we have underestimated his stamina (turn the walker around, have the person sit down, tell him or her to lift his or her feet, and push the walker from behind. Your back will get sore but you will make it back to the car).

How do you know when the limit has been reached? Careful observation is key. Does your loved one seem to struggle at even the most simple of tasks? Maybe you need to get help for that person. Does the individual tire more easily than he or she did in the past? Pay attention to the nonverbal signs.

How have you handled the changes in your loved one’s life? I would love to hear your ideas for how you have adjusted to this new time of life.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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