The Greater North Penn Collaborative for Health and Human Services held its Fifth Annual Community Summit Tuesday to look at the challenges of elder caregiving. Organization President Dave Crosson says aging parents moved in with their children at one time, but the needed resources are no longer available at home. He says everyone wants to do what’s best, but we need to see things from their point of view.
“Imagine the dramatic move of taking someone’s keys. I don’t want to give up my keys, and I can’t imagine the point in time when I will want that to happen, but we need to put ourselves in their shoes and understand that feeling as we’re trying to bring on their care.”
MetLife Senior Gerontologist Kathy O’Brien says many people are working while providing care, and it can be stressful.
“People are living much longer and you’re going to have more employees in the workplace that will be providing care. Caregiving is a very emotional issue, and people are often trying to juggle work and Caregiving and family responsibilities at home.”
O’Brien says caregiving affects family members financially as well as emotionally because they quit their jobs or go to part-time, and it hurts their own retirement preparation. Charles Puchta is co-founder of Aging America Resources. He says the responsibility and emotion of caring for an aging parent can be very challenging.
“We always hear the term caregiver burnout. Caregivers give so much because they want the best for their loved ones, and they find their own health deteriorating. Everybody’s plates are full today, so we’ve got to reach out to the community for resources. As we said earlier today, it takes a village.”
He says caregivers should tap into resources and find people who can help. Jane Meier-Hamilton is a Gwynedd Valley-based nurse who says caregivers must care for themselves as well as their loved one.
“The energy that we have for Caregiving and all of those other roles comes from within us, and we’ve got to respect that and honor the fact that there are seasons in our lives or cycles in our energy, and recognize that we have to care for ourselves just as well as we care for that other person.”
Meier-Hamilton says you can’t give care if you’re out of action yourself. The WNPV talk program Comment Please by Univest was broadcast live from the summit.