From Dr. Dan Tobin, Family Caregiving Expert and Founder of Care Support of America
NEW YORK, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- "Thirty million baby boomers are caring for their aging parents -- often their widowed or single Moms -- often from far away," says Dan Tobin, MD, Founder and CEO of Care Support of America and a nationally recognized expert in eldercare, family caregiving, and family dynamics. "This can be extraordinarily stressful for all involved."
"This Mother's Day, give your Mom the best gift of all -- caring. Adult children sometimes cannot come to terms with how their mothers are aging, so they ignore some of the positive, proactive steps they can take to make their Moms' lives better."
Here are Dr. Tobin's 10 "gift ideas" to help make Mom's life better this Mother's Day:
1. Commit to spending routine, scheduled, quality time with your Mom
No matter how far away your mother is, visiting her on a regular basis, as well as making regular phone calls, will help you 'be there' for her, and monitor how she is doing in her daily activities. When you are with her, try to find activities that she enjoys and do them together regularly, along with other family members.
2. See your Mom the way she is now
Try to see your mother as she is in the present and not how she was in the past or how you would like her to be. Take the time to see how she is adapting to the practical, emotional, and financial challenges of aging and possibly living alone. By focusing on the present, and seeing clearly, you'll have a better grasp on how you and your family can tangibly be of help.
3. Help your Mom stay connected to others
Encourage her 'social connectivity' -- volunteerism and community activities, as well as the use of technology. Use e-mail, cell phones, Webcams, and senior-friendly digital technology to stay part of her life on a frequent basis -- it really is easier to stay connected in a wireless world. Your mother might appreciate your Tweets more than anyone else on earth.
4. Encourage physical mobility and exercise
Help Mom find age-appropriate exercise classes, books, and videos to help her maintain her physical mobility and bone strength. Movement makes the aging process easier -- Tai chi is wonderful for improving balance, and weight training strengthens muscles.
5. Rally the troops around your Mom
Bring your extended family together for Mom on a regular basis. In between, suggest that all of her children take turns calling her on a separate day of the week to check in. Let your mother know that you all care, and share the family caregiving responsibilities, difficulties, and joys.
6. Focus on your Mom's basic home safety and fall prevention
Helping your parents stay safe in their homes is one of the most important concerns of family caregivers. Make sure your Mom has secure, non-slip surfaces, good lighting, sturdy furniture, and tools for reaching things, as well as nearby resources both of you can call in case of emergency.
7. Help your Mom talk about her worries, concerns, and fears
Depending upon everyone's comfort level, it can be helpful to ask your mother to express her feelings about issues small and large. She may want to protect you by hiding her concerns, but feel relieved to express them when you ask -- especially her fears about the future, including topics of illness and frailty.
8. Laugh with her
Laughing releases tension and can brighten the moment. Integrate humor in routine conversations. Depending on everyone's personality and constitution, try to insert appropriate humor into as many situations as possible.
9. Offer to help your Mom find quality, affordable in-home assistance whenever possible
Seniors will often 'do without' rather then getting help, possibly because they want to save money to leave for their children. Or they might fear that if they need help they may not be able to remain at home. A gentle reminder that you are willing to interview, and possibly help pay for, different service providers can encourage your Mom to get the help she needs.
10. Discuss issues of meaning and purpose
Sometimes it can be productive to avoid 'small talk' and allow your mother to 'tell her story.' Talk about issues that have brought meaning and purpose to her life. Try listening to what she has to say rather than focusing on what you think about the issue. Give her the gift of listening.
11. BONUS: Take care of yourself
We are as hard-wired to take care of our parents as they are hard-wired to take care of us. The stress of being an adult child family caregiver -- often in the 'sandwich generation' taking care of parents and teenagers -- is well documented. The more you take care of yourself, the stronger you will be as a family caregiver for Mom and the rest of your family.
About Dr. Dan Tobin
Dan Tobin, MD, is Founder and CEO of Care Support of America, a national family care manager service. He is an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry (health psychology) at Dartmouth Medical School and the author of books and articles on eldercare issues and positive solutions to family caregiving problems.
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Dan Tobin, MD
|SOURCE Care Support of America|
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