Kupuna Transitions 1-13-17

In preparation for the New Year, I started a course by Brian P. Moran that takes you through important steps to reach both immediate and long-term goals for your life. One part of the preparation is to think about what you would like to have, do and be in 5, 10 and 15 years from now. As the parent of an 8-year-old, I calculated my daughter’s age in those time increments and created my goals accordingly.

I believe it is common for parents of young children to base many decisions around the development of their child. Once their children have shown life readiness, parents have the opportunity to rethink their plans based upon their personal desires. This leads me to wonder whether or not individuals at this point in their journey consider their own aging parents when charting their next life goals.

Since caring for older adults is my area of interest, I would like to shine a light up on this grey area. Your aging parents may not require your assistance in the future, but the demographics show that a large number of individuals will be directly impacted by the needs of an older relative. Even independent seniors appreciate routine visits, shopping trips and/or meals with family to maintain their connection to the things they enjoy and give extra value to their day.

Caregiving does not have to just happen to you. Life may not go as you planned, so even if you create an ideal list of goals and steps to get there, it’s important to have secondary arrangements in mind. Below are some questions to consider and research in order to be prepared for a time in which an adult loved one may require care. I realize that these can be challenging thoughts and conversations to have, but they are necessary:

Am I the one responsible to make the decisions if they are unable?

Do I have the skills or desire to provide hands-on care?

Are my siblings going to help me in these roles?

Am I in the financial position to support another adult’s care needs?

Have they made their wishes known to me?

What support systems are out there to assist me if this should happen?

In the meantime, I suggest pursuing the passions of your life that you have control over now, rather than putting them off, since you never know when you will need to reroute your path due to unforeseen circumstances. In other words, create and follow a plan until the plan needs to be adjusted. Enjoy coming up with fresh and alternative goals, and I hope you find great fulfillment in creating your future!

Karyn Clay began caring for older adults 22 years ago and earned a B.A. in Gerontology from SDSU in 1998. She founded Ho’oNani Day Center in 2002 and Ho’oNani Care Home in 2015, which are located on the same property in Kamuela. She invites you to join her Caregiver Conversations gatherings at Tutu’s House, held on the 1st Wednesday of every month, and on YouTube with her Karyn’s Caregiving Support series.

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