The Fine Art Of Transparent Caregiving
From a young age, my grandfather was a fiercely independent man. As a 17-year-old, he jumped off a Russian ship into the Baltimore harbor and became an American citizen as quickly as he could. At 35 years of age, he enlisted to fight in World War II. After the war, he moved to Miami and started a painting contracting company. He went to college after he retired and became president of the Miami Art League when many of his compatriots were enjoying a more restful retirement.
In 1995, he started to develop signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The goal of the family from that point forward was to create a sense of what I call “transparent caregiving.” We constructed a world where he felt he was still in charge, but where he was also safe from harm.
Through our efforts, Gramps’ world became a stage, and we all happily took on our roles. The home health aide, who stayed with him and his wife, became his “personal assistant;” the adult day care center where he spent the day became “his job.” We wanted to make sure he kept his sense of independence for as long as possible. These were the days before “smart home” technology, so our oversight goals were a lot more challenging than they would be today.
Thankfully, home safety technologies have come a long way since then. As well as using the traditional call buttons, you can discreetly monitor the safety of your loved one from your mobile phone. Sensors can be placed in the home to help him or her stay independent, yet allow you to know if your loved one fell in the bathroom, hasn’t gotten out of bed all day or opened the refrigerator for the past two days.
These new technologies can balance safety with independence, maintaining dignity and self-reliance for your loved one while providing peace of mind for everyone involved. As my family found out years ago, a little honest playacting goes a long way; yet I am gratified that technology has made the art of transparent caregiving easier than it has ever been. And that deserves a standing ovation.
Today's Caregiver magazine
|Friday June 18, 2010|