The vaunted amenities of the Finger Lakes Region – its cultural attractions, scenic beauty, and quality of life – offer a wealth of resources for families concerned about or caring for parents, friends, other relatives and themselves as they age. Those same amenities might even entice younger people to move back to handle these challenges in person, rather than from a distance. This final segment in the 2011 Life in the Finger Lakes series on eldercare provides resources for coping with looking after aging family members or oneself.
If worrisome conditions or behaviors become noticeable, the first step is a professional evaluation. Ask the family physician for a referral to a neurologist and a geriatrician or gerontologist.
A number of churches, synagogues, temples and other religious institutions sponsor nursing and assisted-living homes; provide help with handling the stress of aging issues; and host support groups among fellow congregants who are dealing with similar concerns.
AAA and AARP sponsor safe-driving programs that help older drivers compensate for vision and reaction changes, and family members with broaching that difficult conversation about stopping driving and responding to resistance. Consider setting up an account with a local taxi company or someone who offers driving and errand-running services (be sure to check references!). Put together small groups of older friends to make such activities more appealing as social outings. Ask the doctor’s office about pick-up services for appointments. Look for services like Rochester’s Jewish Senior Life program, a partnership with the University of Rochester School of Medicine that provides physician home visits.
Meals on Wheels and similar community organizations, area agencies on aging, and neighborhood associations all offer support services. Do not overlook your friends and colleagues. You are not alone in dealing with the challenges of aging. Many people feel as if they are coping in a vacuum and are desperate to talk about their experiences, as well as glad to share resources.
For further help with aging issues for oneself and friends, relatives, and colleagues, turn to page 64.
by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter