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ElderLife Matters For Caregivers and Employers

Work & eldercare is a difficult marriage for the half of all employees who are caring for an aging loved one.

You may know the facts:

  • The cost of absenteeism, shortened or interrupted work days is $29 billion a year.
  • The cost of replacing employees who leave due to eldercare responsibilities is $4.93 billion a year.
  • Many spend up to 8 hours per week on the phone with eldercare issues, come in late & take more time off.
  • One half of employees care for dependent adults.
  • Three fourths of elder caregivers are in the workforce.
  • One third of caregivers acknowledge their eldercare responsibilities interfere with work.

These issues not only concern the employer, they also greatly concern the employee who wants to do a good job. Yet most caregivers don’t know what kind of help or information to ask for and often tell Linda LaPointe, CaregiverCoach, “It’s difficult to concentrate on a project when I feel like you should make a call or stop in to check on Mom & Dad.” “Education is the key,” LaPointe says, “so caregivers have some idea what to expect and how to help.”

Having seen both sides of the aging situation as a former administrator and now as a Geriatric Care Manager, Linda LaPointe remembers the day she knew what she would do to help families in crisis. She tells us about it:

The 60ish man looked to be assisting his father from the passenger side of the car, when he suddenly and shockingly, in one swift movement, slammed the car door, leapt to the sidewalk and yelled, “You old f------ son of a b------!”, leaving the older man in the car.

Watching this from the next car, it was the final straw. I was determined to develop a simulation so that adult children of aging parents could get some idea what it must be like to grow old and how they can assist their loved ones, as so often they don’t know what to do.

The hurt, the fear, the anger, the defeat, the exhaustion; I’d seen it all, over and over again. I could not remember how many times I had told caregivers, “S/he isn’t doing that on purpose just to upset you.” Some, relieved, believed me. Others, resentful, would never believe me.

In My Shoes: Growing Old is now a boardgame. “People can attend days of lecture and seminars and not be as affected as when they spend one hour moving around the gameboard, living ‘in my shoes’, as one who is aging.” declares Linda LaPointe, author of the simulation. She has watched players “come away with more understanding, patience and empathy after they have ‘experienced’ being an elder facing the many challenges, joys and losses.” It is good for employee assistance professionals, administrators and direct supervisors as well as the workers who are caregivers.

LaPointe explains that we learn more when our emotions are called upon. We are engaged and energized by our feelings, not by facts. “When we can really ‘feel your pain’ we don’t forget it.” Emotions impress or imprint upon our memories. “One woman thanked me for a ‘beautiful piece of work’. I’m glad that so many have been positively impacted by it. I did it with great respect and compassion, yet kept the humor and a lighthearted, upbeat optimism.” LaPointe is gratified when people are heard to say, “Now I really get it….in my gut.”

Years in the making, this new and innovative learning tool, In My Shoes: Growing Old is now available to the general public, employers and long term care communities for training staff. Players will experience:

  • physical, social, financial, spiritual & emotional aspects of aging
  • common conditions of aging
  • adaptive devices & treatments available to retain independence
  • tips to age gracefully or to help others do so
  • long term care & advanced planning options

It can be used over and over, and has an accompanying manual packed with instructions, information, resources and exercises which can be used to create a 1-8 hour educational session. Training can be fun & games. Step up to the challenge with In My Shoes: Growing Old.

Learn more, see the game or order from http://www.SOSpueblo.com or contact Linda LaPointe toll free at 866.241.7009 or email at sospueblo@yahoo.com.

Submitted by:

Linda LaPointe

Linda LaPointe is a Care-Giver-Coach to families in need. http://www.SOSpueblo.com.sospueblo@yahoo.com





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