As a caregiver to an older adult, we sometimes get so caught up in the daily tasks of care that we forget the emotional ties that ties us to the individual themselves. Many of us move quickly from task to task; and that is multiplied if we are caring for ourselves, our children, significant other and aging family members.
We connect with the senior only when we are hastily unpacking the latest bag of groceries for them, or dropping off the newest prescription. We forget that the one thing we can offer our parents, our Aunt, or the special neighbor that is the “target” of our time and attention, is ourselves. Not the harried self or the time crunch self, but the self who can share a story about their day, or their grandchild (or granddog).
If the time you are putting in to help the older adult in your life is only task specific, maybe it is time to re-evaluate your role.
Maybe there is someone else who can do the cleaning, the errands, or even the personal care, so that you can return to being the daughter, the niece, the spouse or the friend.
These services do not have to “bankrupt” you, and they may even be covered under a County or State program if income and asset guidelines are met. Maybe the Synagogue has a volunteer program whose members can lend a hand.
To explore the options you can check with the Area Agency on Aging in your community www.n4a.org or connect with a Geriatric Care Manager who can help to develop a plan of care that works for all involved. See resources at www.napgcm.org.
Once you have freed up some time to enjoy your relationship with each other, it is time to develop a new list.
But this list is about ways to spend time together. Below I have given you a place to start. As the weather is warming up, now is a great time to begin your new routine and start to enjoy each other again.
20 Ways to Share Time
- Play a game of cards
- plant an indoor garden
- read a book together
- rent an old movie
- make cookies
- look through a photo album and label old pictures
- decorate the house for an upcoming holiday
- write a letter to a relative
- go to the zoo
- get dressed up and go to dinner
- take a walk in the mall on a cold day
- put together a book of favorite family recipes
- make a family tree
- go get ice cream
- visit a pet store or humane society
- listen to music (of all generations)
- make a list of senior discounts in town and take advantage of them one by one
- buy a vase and keep it filled with fresh flowers
- go to the library
- tape record old stories and give to family members
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.