The following article was published on April 25, 2016 in Today’s Senior (Edmonton Journal). Written by our Executive Director, Karen Greenwood, this piece highlights the importance of having a companion.
Finding care to help loved ones age well: Making a long life meaningful is profoundly valuable to seniors
Medical advancements have changed the way we age. For previous generations, the question was, “how can we live a long life?” Today we ask “how do we make long life meaningful?”
Longer life spans and a desire for meaning can place added pressure on caregivers. It’s important for caregivers to pay attention to their own needs as well as the needs of the aging.
There are many helping agencies that provide services to bathe, drive, shop, assist with medications or clean for your aging loved one. As you consider these agencies, listen for cues that they will stay attentive to your loved one’s story. Paying attention to the small things that may be big things and validating the meanings borne out in the story will help us all age a little better.
The aging face losses daily, little things like the loss of the ability to move a limb, read the paper, or get to a social gathering. If we aren’t careful, we can miss these little setbacks that are small to us but big to the aging.
Consider the role of meaning in the life of the aged. This is best accomplished by engaging then listening to the story of their life. Listening to the same story with the same themes of hard work, loves lost, old time values, and life changes is hard work for the listener, but integral to the sense of meaning the aged (even those with dementia) may attach to life.
A companion who understands the aging process, the importance of the story and the flashes of meaning is profoundly valuable in helping someone age well. If you are considering a companion for your loved one, contact organizations such as Classic LifeCare, Comfort Keepers, Home Instead Senior Care and Shepherd’s Care at Home.