Olympic Area Agency on Aging
Senior Information & Assistance
An old joke quips, "God loves you - and everyone else has a plan for your life." As we've seen in past columns, a plan is not necessarily your plan, and though well-meaning loved ones may have pure motive in leading you in a certain direction, it may not be the direction you want to go. And, as someone else once said, "If you're leading and no one's following, you're just out for a walk."
Let me take another opportunity to talk to some of the folks out there who are worried about "Dad" being alone and needing help. Although in most cases, Dad is the one most aware of how things have changed for him, it may be difficult for him to admit to all he's experiencing. Why?
Consider these possibilities:
Dad doesn't want to add more worry to those who care.
Sometimes looking at it all and saying it aloud makes it more - real.
It may bring unwanted changes.
What good would it do?
So, our well-meaning strategy is to go in and get a plan in place (see above), get the wheels turning and make things happen. Sensitivity and patience is key here. Barring a crisis event, there is usually time to actually converse about what's happening. Recognizing the first three points will go a long way toward allowing a free exchange of ideas, and may inspire some needed patience. As to the final point, knowing what's available and what could be accessed can demonstrate what can be accomplished. And since we've recently talked about alternate living arrangements and caregivers, let's look at some other community resources.
Check out Dad's community. Nearly every community, although unique, has some sort of informal network of assistance services, such as churches, fraternal organizations and other volunteer groups. Support such as food banks, nutrition, friendly visitor programs, loans of assistive devices (walkers, commodes, wheelchairs, beds, etc.) are often available, though relatively unknown. (Another example of not knowing what's out there until you really need it.) Some communities have their own help that may not fit into a designated category. For example, in our community we have a dedicated group of knitters who take the time throughout the year to knit afghans for whoever may need them. Once a year, we get a call to pick them up and help distribute to those who can use them. A bright colorful - and warm! - lap warmer or blanket can really brighten up a cold winter home. (And again, thank you to the knitters from the senior center!)
Take the time to talk to folks. Look in community directories. Give the local Senior I & A office a call. Once you know what's available, you and Dad can have a nice productive conversation that will benefit him and calm you. You know, sometimes the best way to lead is arm in arm.
Senior Information and Assistance Offices: Ilwaco: 642-3634 or (888) 571-6558; Raymond: 942-2177 or (888) 571-6557.