February 21st, 2011 at 5:11 am
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Create a meaningful visit while helping out an older adult

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

If you had someone just stop by for a visit and tell you they were there to help, how would you handle the offer? If an older adult does not like to ask for help or perhaps cannot think of anything that needs to be done, you may need to assist the person create an ongoing list of things that might need to be done.

If a person is living alone and having trouble seeing or getting around, there are probably many things that get missed. One of my therapy sessions with a woman who was recovering from a stroke was actually spent helping her assess some of her needs and creating a list to share with her family and friends. They all hoped she would recover enough from her stroke to be able to stay in her home and were willing to share some of the responsibilities in the meantime. The home was large and required a lot of work but she loved having her family there for special occasions. Since her stroke it had been hard for her to allow her family to do most of the preparations especially the cooking and cleaning up after a holiday meal but she realized it was necessary. We went room by room and listed things she could not do like moving furniture, dusting the higher shelves and changing the light bulbs out of her reach. Once she gave it more thought she added some other items and she agreed to accept the help from others as long as she could send them home with one of her apple pies.

In a similar situation, an older man lived alone and was still quite active but the arthritis in his hands limited his ability to fix things or to continue with some of his woodworking projects. He had built birdhouses for years, each with a unique design. His son had some physical limitations as well but it was the grandson who came over and fixed things around the house. When all 3 generations were together, the grandfather shared how he could perhaps complete the ones he had started if they could help. They figured it out and finished 6 of the birdhouses as Christmas gifts. Each time the son and grandson came over they also did one other little fix-it chore so that the home was much safer and in better shape within a few months.

In many cases, if you do a fun or interesting activity around the helping out, the focus is not so much on the fact that a person has to rely on you but that you came to visit and helped out while there. For additional ideas refer to Creating Time Well Spent:Enhancing Your Visits with Older Adults

“Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible.” Charles Dickens

Posted in Assisted Living, Caring At Home, Support | 2 Comments »
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2 Comments to “Create a meaningful visit while helping out an older adult”

  1. Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

    Thank you so much for your feedback. Glad you are creating a list of what you might need in the way of assistance. Often friends and family offer but it is hard to think of something at that time. Here is the link to a blog I wrote on a similar topic which might give you some additional ideas. All the best ~ Kathy http://blog.eldercarelink.com/2010/05/creating-a-caregiver-wish-list/

  2. Barbara Leigh

    Thank you for the above suggestions. I am now
    making a list of what I need a caregiver for.

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