There is a lot of focus on the physical care of the elderly but lack of human contact and social interaction can contribute to physical pain, depression and deterioration in their mental capacity. The sandwich generation and the aging parent are equally overwhelmed.
In this situation a woman lost her husband when he was 55 and she was a few years younger. They had 5 daughters and a son. She resided in a third world country and was trained as a teacher. She decided to migrate to the USA. She got a job in her area of expertise but had to work 2 fulltime jobs to care for her children. They all did well in school and all graduated from college and were gainfully employed in demanding jobs. All her children were married and had families of their own. Two daughters live locally and the rest of her children lived in different parts of the united States.
Their mother is now 86 years old, alert and oriented but frequently has pain and is physically challenged. The children love their mother dearly but must coordinate the care of their mother and their own family on the weekend. There is a schedule and everyone participates in the care. Her children are collectively paying for a live in Caregiver, a Home Health Aide, 24 hours daily Monday-Friday. The 2 daughters that live locally are responsible for her care on the weekends as she now cannot be left alone. She uses a walker and recently had a fall resulting in short term hospitalization.
Three of their Mother’s younger sisters that live in other states decided to visit with her for a weekend. One sister is a pre-Boomer and the other two are Baby Boomers and also nurses. Upon their arrival their Sister appeared feeble, moving slowly with a walker and requiring help from a sitting to standing position. She was visibly anxious. She expressed that it saddened her that children had to spend their weekends taking care of her and not spending time with their family. Her sisters spent the time giving her massages, eating, watching movies, reminiscing and laughing about their childhood. The sisters that were nurse gave her daughters a break with the caregiving.
By the end of the weekend It was amazing to see the change in her. She was visibly less anxious, moving around her house with good posture using her walker and not once did she complain of pain. The sisters were all amused as when they were leaving she was the first outside moving rather quickly and even shouting at the Uber driver for not getting their sooner.
It is very important to remember to visit with the elderly. The caregivers are focused on getting the Physical care done but they also need socialization and mental stimulation. The phone calls are great but the human touch and presence makes a world of difference to alleviate loneliness and talk about their past. They are a source of information. They have a lot to share and just need to be asked. Loneliness hurts and shorten our lives!