Community Magazine

The Lie of "One and Done" Caregiving

By Thegenaboveme @TheGenAboveMe

Photo by RCC.

Aging is a gradual and dynamic process.
Many people do not realize this.
I say this because I have seen a lot of adult children hold onto an unrealistic view of aging.
Many adult children expect their parents to have full health until the week their parents move into a nursing home.
The adult child expects a "One and Done" type of intervention.
They expect that they will take one week off work to help transfer their parent from an independent home to a dependent nursing care environment.
One major change in health. One move. One intervention. One week. One and Done.
"One and Done" is NOT the norm.
For most older adults, aging is a dynamic experience.  The person's needs change frequently over time.
I have seen older adults experience temporary disability (such as surgery for a knee replacement), which has them moving from home to hospital to rehab back to home. And this can happen more than once.
Even when their health needs become permanent, it takes time to find the right fit.
Will they go through several home health aids until they find a good fit?
Will they have family care? Paid in-home care? Or a combination of the two?
Will they move to assisted living?  Can they find an assisted living facility that is affordable and close to doctors and to relatives?
A person's age and diagnosis don't accurately predict the timing and trajectory of their care needs.   You can take 10 people who have the same age and same chronic or terminal disease, and their lived experiences and the types of support they need can differ dramatically.
The older adult with support of their spouse and adult children often have to reevaluate the needs and adjust every couple of years. Or every year. Or every few months.   
Aging is very dynamic.  Trying to superimpose a template on the experience leads to frustration, anger, and depression.  It's better to let go of expectations.
This is easier said than done, but it's really the best way to achieve peace during a dynamic life event such as aging.

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