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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

WHO does WHAT? Tuesday, February12, 2012

In younger families today, much of the role definitions have changed; there is less "women's work" or "guys' work" and more sharing of household tasks. But with couples of my generation and older, the habits of a lifetime are so difficult to change.

The problems of course increase when one partner develops dementia and can no longer do the traditional tasks he or she has accomplished for years. It becomes problematic if the well partner neglects to pay attention to what is happening. We don't want our lives to change. After several holiday visits, I heard of parents' homes that needed to be cleaned of tub soap scum-what  a way to spend a visit! I heard stories of checkbooks not being tallied; older folk are not involved with online banking although they often shop online. It's so easy to click an order!

Who is keeping tabs on the budget? Sadly, there is more money to spend in some families as they have stopped outside socializing, shopping for clothing and going to the movies.

Many visitors return feeling guilty they are not living closer to their relatives who need emotional support and caregiver assistance. One parent is physically challenged and the other is in the beginning stages of some type of dementia. How can they help?

Each region of the country has a federal agency called Area Agency on Aging. They can help by providing resources for respite care, social work visits and information on alternate living arrangments.

Caregivers, please ask for help, join a support group. Don't overlook what is happening. Don't merely ignore the unmet chores of the household if your spouse and you are unable. Call your family members, your religious community center. Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are physical illnesses; they are life-limiting and non-discriminating. They hit us all regardless of any classification. Do yourselves a favor. Help me make 2013 the year of changing caregiving from crisis to comfort.

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