Avoid Kūpuna Caring for Kūpuna

There is nothing more frightening than the image of a 93-year-old helping a 96-year-old step into the shower or stumble down a stairway. While this scenario is becoming more common in Hawai‘i, the reality is this generation wants to take care of themselves.

Our loved ones’ important expectations include privacy, dignity, independence and more. These are the folks who have always made it through tough times. Allowing others, even family, to help them may cause anxiety and hurt feelings.

Situations are bound to come up — a fall, a missed medication, lack of nutrition or a fender bender — and help will be required. These can be considered opportunities that finally allow the decision to be made to get help.

But therein lies the dilemma… allowing the decision. Families need to recognize timing and know when to say a change is needed.

Sometimes professional medical advice can be invaluable. Most families feel a great sense of relief knowing there are others involved in managing a crisis. This does not mean the crisis will end, but it does give families access to another resource they did not have before.

A home health agency can offer families a way to start a discussion about care for their loved one. There are many options in the community; in-home help is a good place to start.

Here are some things to remember when the times comes to start looking for care:

• A little goes a long way. Think about starting in-home care one day a week. This beginning point will provide a smoother, more gradual  transition, so there is less chance that your loved one will feel overwhelmed.
• Establish a relationship with the home health agency. Remember, you are working with people who know what you are dealing with. They have heard it all. Don’t be afraid to tell them the whole story.
• Clarify expectations on scheduling, caregiver turnover, training and orienting to daily care.
• Understand what you are getting. If your loved one needs advanced medical care and has multiple chronic conditions, you may want to involve a home health agency rather than a home care company. That way, there will be a medical professional such as a nurse involved with the care plan. Caregivers from home care companies are limited as to what tasks they can perform in the home.

If families can coordinate, communicate and have patience with the home health agency, they will have access to a healthcare professional who can be objective and encourage changes in frequency of care as the needs of the loved one decrease or increase.

Building trust beforehand will make this transition easier. Start the conversation and do some research before the kupuna in your life ends up caring for another kupuna in their life.

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1580 Makaloa St., Ste. 1060, Honolulu, HI 96814
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by Attention Plus Care — a program providing resources for seniors and their families, covering different aging topics each month. For class information and upcoming topics, call 808-440-9356.


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