When Edmonton author Rick Lauber stopped by the St. Albert Senior Citizens’ Club on Thursday afternoon, he brought with him a message for those who have before them the prospect of taking care of the elderly. That includes children of elderly parents and elderly spouses.
His book, Caregiver's Guide for Canadians, offers useful advice while sharing his own experiences. His mother had Parkinson's disease and leukemia and his father had Alzheimer's disease.
“The subject of eldercare is both timely and topical,” he explained. “Canada's population is aging. Numbers from the 2006 Canadian national census report that one in five Canadians is currently helping to look after a senior.”
It is estimated that one in five Albertans will be considered seniors by 2035.
“With our country's baby boomers getting older, this number is going to only increase, leaving more family members to step in as caregivers.”
This is foreign territory to many, including him, and he explained that the learning curve was very steep. That’s why he felt the need to write his book.
The guide includes website resources for caregivers and addresses relevant topics including searching for long-term care and finding joy in caregiving. He also writes about the stress of caregivers.
“Those providing care to seniors often get completely wrapped up in the role and overlook their own needs. Caregivers must find an outlet to release that stress so as to remain healthy and well balanced. One cannot do this alone and there is ample help out there. More hands really do make lighter work!”
He said that the small group on Thursday was receptive and open to sharing experiences and stories. Doing so, he explained, is very beneficial, “so they do not keep everything bottled up indefinitely.”
Lauber offered some sage words about communication for the public.
“Remember that caregiving can be an emotionally-charged situation. Family members can argue about the best care for a loved one and even split apart. Ensure that you communicate openly and regularly with siblings to reduce potential problems.”
He also suggested that a little knowledge can go a long way and that caregivers need to remember to take care of themselves too. That means getting lots of breaks and learning how to relax in order to maintain your own balance.