Coronavirus is forcing an important conversation
At the Office for the Aging (OFA), we do the best we can to anticipate the needs and concerns of seniors and caregivers throughout Dutchess County; and when it comes to anticipation, a line from a Golden Living column from 2018 really hit the mark: “Bad news has a way of showing up before the conversation ever happens.”
In 2020, the bad news showed up, in the form of a deadly virus.
By “conversation,” we had been referring to the time when a senior’s adult children first notice that their parent is having trouble managing their independence, and how they can discuss that topic frankly, with a minimum of awkwardness.
If your senior family member has remained socially and mentally active while staying physically safe during the coronavirus pandemic thus far, that’s a great accomplishment. It’s a sign that they’re mastering a key aspect of aging gracefully: learning to accept help gracefully. It’s impressive, given that the pandemic had not been on anybody’s calendar at this time one year earlier.
If you’re the senior in question, and you’ve learned to adapt to the virus while also adapting to aging, and you’ve been working with your family to accomplish this… great job!
But if you’re the senior or the family members who are wondering how you’ll be able to hold things together over the winter into the new year, please get in touch with the Office for the Aging with any questions you’re prepared to ask. Chances are there will be additional questions that haven’t come to mind yet. That’s to be expected.
And what if you don’t know where to begin? Not a problem. The main point is that you’re seeking solutions. To get started on a plan, look at later life’s biggest challenges:
• Whether to retrofit a familiar home to meet seniors’ evolving living situations, or to move into a new home with senior-friendly design features, also known as universal design;
• Whether to restrict driving, and whether to give up the car keys altogether;
• When to get help with health care decisions;
• What level of informal (unpaid) and formal (paid) in-home care is needed, and who’s available to provide that care, keeping in mind that the pandemic has exacerbated the existing shortage of home aides;
• When to turn over household financial decisions and bill-paying to a trustworthy third party.
It’s not necessary to have answered all those questions right away. To have considered the questions in the first place means you’ve started on a journey to a plan with which everybody is comfortable.