I recently signed up for a google alert on aging parents. It's clear from the articles and blog links I'm receiving that angst is high between boomers and aging parents. There's plenty of information on caregiving statistics, challenges of the sandwich generation, and how to find the right nursing home —when the time comes. But no-one is talking about how to create a partnership between aging parents and adult children that supports independence and well-being on all levels – body, mind and spirit.
After years of creating exercise and wellness programs for the senior living industry I've realized something….all the good intentions and efforts, quality programs, and step-by-step guides to senior care fall short if you fail to create a true partnership of well-being between the individual needing care and the caregiver. It doesn't matter if they are living in an assisted living community or an adult childs home.
A true care partnership focuses on enhancing well-being in body, mind and spirit – regardless of challenges. It doesn't let the medical model of care (i.e. managing illness and chronic conditions) take center stage. This shift in thinking focuses on possibilities rather than disabilities, and actively celebrates all the big and small things that make someone a unique person. The disability movement profoundly changed the lives of people with disabilities by making this same shift. It stopped allowing disabilities to define individuals and what they were capable of and provided support for what they could do rather than lament what they couldn't do. In this new care "environment" many individuals with profound disabilities accomplished amazing things.
It's time to do the same for frail older adults and their families. I want to help adult children and aging parents create partnerships that promote lifelong independence, and support well-being regardless of challenges. Over the next months I'll provide a variety of tools designed to help individuals create environments of well-being rather than illness management. I'll look forward to hearing your feedback.