– by Emily Kearns, Consultant, MLRC
It’s mid-January and we are settling into our New Year’s resolutions, recommitting to all things important including our relationships with friends and family. Winter holidays brought their usual wondrous mix of celebrating with loved ones replete with feasting, gift-giving, and reminiscing. For many of us, mixed within this joyful connecting is an unsettling – a surprise and a concern that our older friends and parents may need more support. During this holiday visit, perhaps they seemed more forgetful. Familiar recipes were a stretch. Tales about this past year’s events felt quieter than usual — sobering as we listened deeply to clues of increased isolation. 2015 was a good year, they tell us, but they are getting out less. They’ve made some changes – some big decisions. They are no longer driving at night and they have difficulty hearing their favorite television shows. Restaurants are too loud. They don’t really feel like going to their usual activities – the gym, worship, coffees with friends. Our visit ends and we hug goodbye, but as the New Year unfolds, we are haunted by feeling their increased isolation and loneliness and wonder if there’s something more we can do.
In fact, there is something we can do and it doesn’t require us quitting our job or sacrificing our lives to support them. We can connect them and ourselves to an extensive support system for increasing wellness and joy as we age – a well-established web comprised of programs, transportation, and supportive services to ensure that they, and we as caregivers, do not become isolated — so that we can all remain engaged and feel like we are valued as contributing members of an active community.
We hope you join us in our Massachusetts Lifespan Respite Coalition’s efforts to support every caregiver to ensure that they and their family and friends are able to experience the quality life they choose. For more information, contact us at www.massrespite.com.