As featured in North Hawaii News October, 2016
When you are in need of personal care, it can be very reassuring to have family there to help make difficult decisions, supporting you through your journey while ensuring that you are given high-quality care. At the same time, it can also feel a little overwhelming to have well-intended family members involved in every personal decision. Family members often start to feel like they need to have a say in every choice made.
From the family perspective, it is difficult to release your adult loved one back to their own life journey once involved with their care. Accepting that they may not live to the fantasy age that’s in the back of most of our minds (110 sound about right?) creates a feeling of responsibility to ensure they live as many days as possible. The picture often starts getting a bit fuzzy at this point. Taking over their routines and choices may add days to their lives, but if they do not feel empowered to truly live their own life, who’s needs are you really satisfying?
I encourage all caring family members of someone needing assistance to intentionally bring the focus to the quality of their days by honoring their personal journey. Step back and realize that yes, they are older; and yes, they could have an accident where they fall or become very ill. Whatever may happen that could lead to their passing, hindering their personal growth, self esteem and dignity in the meantime will not make for a better life experience. And ultimately, isn’t that what we are each trying to achieve?
Quality of days involves the empowerment to make choices (within reason), while feeling the freedom and space to live them out. When family members respect those choices and back off a little bit, their loved one has the space to truly ask for the help they desire. Chris Ridley, of the Alzheimer’s Association, would love to provide support to any of you who are working through these issues. She can be reached at (808) 433-7360.
When facing legal decisions, having a strong family member in place as a Power of Attorney is also very helpful. Something to remember, however, is that having Power of Attorney doesn’t mean power over the other person. Rather, it means that they have the power to speak on their behalf if the person is unable to speak for themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen family members take this role to the extreme and create a dominating dynamic with their loved one.
John Roth and I will be presenting at the Kona Office of Aging, located in the Civic Center, on October 22nd from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. We will discuss the legal options surrounding the involvement of family in the care of a loved one, and would love to have each of you attend. We will also discuss what your own choices may be, should you be the one in need of assistance down the road of life.