Aging in Place: Someone to Watch Over Me

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

 

Aging in Place

Summertime is a time for travel and new adventures for so many. I’ve been hearing from friends about their envy-evoking-trips to places near and far. I’m also aware of others (like myself) who are on another “trip” this summer–the journey that is caregiving our aging parents. There are common themes such as; going somewhere you’ve never been, not knowing what to expect, how to plan for the optimal experience–leaving room for some serendipity along the way, and of course how to pay for it. All this has me thinking about the value of guides when embarking on new and foreign lands (exotic destinations and/or elder care).

One of my favorite programs to listen to lately as I take trips precariously via my radio is Rick Steves who always interviews guides from around the world. These trusted insiders make travel a more meaningful experience, while often easing the stress of the unknown for many. His stated reasons for using guides can be summed up in a few words: A finely crafted trip can help release stress and be a better bang for the buck in that money you may appear to save as an “independent” traveler can be quickly lost in hassles and inevitable mistakes. Bottom Line, a smartly-designed trip is about economy and efficiency, which equates to an optimal experience.

There are many types of guides, from Rick Steve’s Tour guides to mountain guides, wilderness guides, fishing guides, safari guides, there are even psychedelic guides called “trip-sitters” who are defined by Wikipedia as:

Trip sitter, or sometimes a sober sitter or co-pilot, is a term used by recreational or spiritual drug users to describe a person who remains sober to ensure the safety of the drug user while he or she is under the influence of a drug; they are especially common with first-time experiences or when using psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. This practice can be qualified as a means of harm reduction.

A trip sitter is sometimes called a psychedelic guide or guide, although this term is more often used to describe someone who takes an active role in guiding a drug user’s experiences, while a sitter merely stands by to discourage bad trips and handle emergencies, but otherwise does not take on an active role.

A Long Strange Trip

The main idea I’m emphasizing is that employing someone who is an expert concerning the place (real or psych) you will be going is key to the success of your trip. Mixing my metaphor a bit here, of traveling to destinations unknown and the journey of caregiving is one I’d like you to consider. Given that approximately 43.5 million caregivers in 2015 provided unpaid care to an adult or child,  this “trip” is likely your next one. And it can be a long strange trip because you’ll be going places and doing things you never dreamed of in your most exercised imagination–and you are woefully unprepared for.

For the caregiving trip, not unlike Rick’s adventures, best to hire a guide if you can afford it. This elder care guide is called a Geriatric Care Manager. These are trained professionals in the fields of social work, psychology, nursing, gerontology — and trained to assess, plan, coordinate, monitor and provide services for the elderly and their families. Being an advocacy for older adults is a primary function of the care manager. They belong to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers and are certified by one of the three certification organizations for care management — the National Association of Social Workers, the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, or the Commission for Case Managers (source: Why Hire a Geriatric Care Manager).

The Geriatric Care Manager can be well worth the investment as someone to watch over you (aka guide) to make sure things don’t get so out of hand you’ll be looking for a trip-sitter next. They can make it a smoother path so you can focus on what matters most–the journey and being there for them.

Happy Trails!

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Ella Fitzgerald Someone To Watch Over Me

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