My grandma, like many others, went through hardships just before their retirement resulting in a large part of her retirement funds wiped out. Most of what money remained was spent caring for my grandpa before his eventual passing — it didn’t leave her much to work with.
I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) see this person I love scrape by.
I found myself at a pivot and decided I would become a caregiver for my grandma. Someone to help pay bills, keep her active, and prevent social isolation. This has been going on for two years now and I’ve learned a lot – I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you in case you find yourself in a similar situation.
Caring for the Elderly: Basic Companionship
Seniors are quite active so most of what you’re doing is providing company and being a second set of eyes to prevent them from accidental harm.
The little (easy) things I do that help with activity and sociability include:
- Taking her shopping
- Holding a weekly game night
- Watching and discussing movies
- Cooking together
- Going on walks
These are things they could do on their own, but it’s always nice to have company. It gives a good reason to get up and out of the house. These are moments that spur deep conversations and debate that will keep their mind sharp.
Plus, if you’re like me then you can help them find good deals (using comparison shopping with apps and mobile sites) to help them stretch their social security and funds. This is especially true with BOGO grocery deals or locating a pharmacy near me that has a better prescription price.
The other aspect is helping them stay safe:
- Double checking their meds so there’s no overlap
- Cleaning to stop potential viruses and bacteria
- Clearing paths to remove a trip and fall hazard
- Driving them to appointments
- Teaching them about senior scams and how to avoid them
Overall, it’s an easy transition – the only real challenge is slowing down to their pace but you get used to it.
The Tougher Challenges
The tough part, I’ve found, comes with the uncomfortable conversations about late-stage care. Basically, what to do once my grandma is old enough that my basic caregiving and companionship won’t provide the best for her health.
It’s a conversation few people have with their aging parents (or grandparents).
There are good options and I recommend you check into each:
- Setting them up in an extra bedroom
- Senior care facilities
- Hiring in-home care providers
- Hospice care (during end-of-life care)
It’s also a good time to talk about important items like wills and the eventual funeral. A tough set of discussions, no doubt, but something that must be done.
Finally, the thought of when to move on.
Caring for a loved one is a wonderful service you can provide. Yet, you do have a life and sometimes this caregiving position prevents you from moving forward with relationships and career goals.
This is a discussion best done with the family present.
- Who will help pay for caregiving services?
- What facilities would provide the best care?
- When will this transition happen?
These decisions are best done through a group consensus unless other members of the family are too jostled by the idea or fail to take responsibility. Your time as a caregiver will give you the best insight of what to do so trust your judgment.
A Rewarding Experience
I think the best part of helping my grandma has been that I’ve gotten to really know her.
The stories she tells, opinions she has, and her goals are all things you don’t normally pick up when you’re dropping in for a quick visit. It’s quite easy for people to go about their day without much thought of their grandparents – caregiving is a rewarding experience all around.
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