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Posted: Monday, January 25, 2021

The Season of Caregivers

We’re fresh off the holiday season when people typically gather with friends and family to visit and reconnect. The holiday season of 2020, of course, was different for a lot of people, with far fewer gatherings than normal. Still, many did connect with family members over Christmas, whether in person or over the internet, which meant that the gap that separates family members was at least somewhat bridged, even if only for a short time. Though small, these brief encounters have the ability to provide observant adult children the opportunity to pause and notice the state of their family and relatives, particularly the parents and aging family members. It’s a chance to take mental notes on how parents are changing, their overall function level, the status of their health and how they are really doing.

Blount Memorial licensed clinical social worker Edward Harper says because of this, the post-holiday months of January and February can become the “season of caregivers.” “After those family interactions around Thanksgiving and Christmas, January often becomes a time of increased phone calls, texts and emails between siblings or parents and children to discuss the things they observed or experienced over the holidays,” Harper said. “These conversations are important because they’re an attempt to reach an understanding and consensus about the abilities of parents or elder family members, consider if there is a need for assistance and discuss how the perceived need could be approached. Caregiving in its early stages is a progressive response to a sensing of need, which can be a confusing process. To offer care can feel like an intrusive or disrespectful act of interfering with the independence of the parents or an impaired relative. It also can feel threatening when knowing that any offer of care or assistance could be met with admonishment and anger,” he explained.

Harper suggests that broaching these topics is easier when you have both help and a strategic approach. “When attempting to offer care to family, it can be helpful to have the opportunity to discuss the situation with a non-biased person,” he said. “If you are sensing that family members may be experiencing lapses and losses in their ability to care for themselves safely due to physical or medical conditions, or if memory issues and losses of intellectual capacity are becoming noticeable and are creating unsafe living, driving, or financial situations, then having a conversation with an objective professional can be a good start to understanding your observations and creating a plan for offering care,” he explained. “Blount Memorial Senior Services offers free caregiver consultations to allow caregivers time to discuss their situations and explore possible strategies and resources. These are confidential consultations that can assist the caregiver in gaining clarity of the situation and developing a plan of care for their loved ones,” he added.

For more information about caregiver consultations, contact Blount Memorial Senior Services at 865-977-5744.

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