Providing a Sense of Purpose
Is your loved one a talker? Have they successfully been through a procedure that is common for the elderly - cataract surgery, heart catheterization, hip replacement? They may be a great resource for another resident in their facility that has an upcoming procedure and is anxious about what to expect. If you know anyone who is elderly, you know they will go on and on about their health issues! This gives your loved one an opportunity to share their experience with someone and benefit that person with much needed assurance and comfort. It gives your loved one a sense of purpose and widens their narrowing world by reaching out to someone else.
The ALF activity director will likely happily refer residents to a "resident expert" who can allay their fears about a specific medical procedure that they have scheduled and want to talk to someone who has walked that path before them. It can create a bond and peer support that medical professionals cannot provide. Of course, there are HIPAA rules about sharing medical information on someone else's behalf, so if your loved one is the one who has had the procedure, the activity director can get their permission to be on the list of "referrals" and then when they know of someone with an upcoming surgery or procedure, they can arrange for the two to meet.
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Anita is the founder of Family Link and wants to share with you some tools and thoughts to help you with the complex responsibility of managing the care of aging loved ones while still managing the other aspects of your life.