Caregiving Is More Than "Bam"

Updated: Apr 10, 2019

Ryan and his father Tom. Tom works the Disney races and Ryan runs them.

I’ve told the story often about why I launched Caregiver Smart Solutions. Pretty simply, I love my dad, and when he was diagnosed with cancer I wanted to know how he was doing.

As a tech guy, I assumed there would be a bunch of products in the eldercare space that would provide me with insight into his daily activities while still protecting his privacy and independence. When I learned how wrong I was, I put my technology background to work.

In the year since launching the company I’ve realized how deep-seeded our fear of aging is. We have to break the current psychology of aging.

None of us want to talk about getting old. Those in the long-term insurance world have been saying this for years. It seems like the longer we can ignore our parents getting older the better. Until – bam – something happens and we are thrust into full throttle.

I get it. Aging leads to the ultimate end of life. I had to overcome that with my dad. He wouldn’t wear a pendant (he called it the “button of death”) but he came to recognize my caring about him was important to me. And it gave him comfort too.

But, in this day and age, it makes no sense that we aren’t talking about the aging process more, and being more open with preparations. After all, we are living in a very different world than our great-grandparents and grandparents did.

Today, the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers are going through the aging process very differently. Not only are they much more independent than those who came before them, but they are fully embracing a growing eldercare industry complete with a variety of independent and assisted living choices, a full array of 55+ communities and so many in the eldercare community trying to bring technology into the forefront. And, of course, so many are opting to Age in Place and utilize in-home care as needed.

We are witnessing the first generation of modern aging. And we – their children – are therefore the first generation of modern caregivers.

This caregiver role should be viewed differently than has been previously defined. So much has been written and shared about those who give up so much -- including jobs, lifestyles and time with their own families to care for their mom or dad. I know this type of heroic effort is often needed and this role should be treated with the utmost respect and provided every ounce of help we can provide.

But I believe there are two new levels of caregiving that are evolving.

The first is an entry-level caregiver, those who are simply concerned for their loved one. Most of the time, there is not much work needed as Mom or Dad doesn’t need a lot of help. But that doesn’t mean we don’t care how they are doing. We do. But, let’s face it, a call, and text or “drop in” visit is just not enough for us to know that everything is fine.

And, when it comes to our parents, we have to get them to stop seeing themselves as a “burden” to us. We want to be engaged with them as they age and being aware of potential challenges before they occur is a plus for us.

The next step in modern caregiving is what I’m calling an “Event Driven Caregiving.” We jump into action when an event happens – a fall, illness or even realizing Mom or Dad just isn’t as vibrant as they used to be. Even after they get better and/or we engage an Aging Life Care professional, in-home providers or outfit our loved one’s home with necessary equipment, our lives will be filled with constant concern.

These new caregiving levels are ripe to welcome technological innovation. While no one wants their privacy impeded, there is just no reason why our parents shouldn’t want the comfort of knowing we have their back. If everything is fine, we are fine. If something is amiss, we are there to help. And if something catastrophic occurs, they won’t be alone for days on end.

Thankfully my dad was willing to let me love him. It’s a lesson we can all learn from him.

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