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Helping Mom
Photo: Peter Skadberg
Pam's mom had just been in a car accident. She said she never saw the car ahead of her as she was merging into traffic on the highway. No one was hurt, but Mom was upset because the police officer had taken her driver's license away until she could come before a judge. When her day in court arrived, he, with great wisdom and tenderness, told her she could have her license back-if she passed a driver's test. God gave her the wisdom to recognize she probably would not pass. She decided to surrender her driving privileges rather than fail the test and feel humiliated.

No one likes to lose his or her independence. And for elderly people, who have lived usefully and taken care of others and themselves all their lives, it is a painful reality to have to depend on others. Still, it is clear that something must be done in order to help and protect our elderly loved ones. We must look for signs of mental and physical decline. If you notice more than one of the following, it is time to seek professional guidance: bruises or broken bones, which may indicate balance and/or medication problems; burned pots and pans, which may suggest forgetfulness or confusion; sudden change in weight, either an increase or a decrease; poor hygiene, such as stained clothing, unkempt hair, body odor; overdue bills, phone service disconnected, taxes unpaid, mail or magazines piling up-all these could suggest the cognitive abilities are beginning to fail.

One thing is sure: While helping the elderly, we must remember to respect their dignity. Studies have shown home residents who were given the ability some choices lived longer and were healthier who perceived that they had no choice about their lives, or how they were cared for.

Younger and Older Generations Connecting

We also need to remember that although the elderly may not be able to do some of the things of which they were formerly capable, there are many other things they can still accomplish. Before we label the elderly as useless, let's see how the younger and older generations can connect for the benefit of both.

Elderly individuals can use the free time they now have to do things they were too busy to do before. They can serve as experienced mentors to young people completing their education or beginning careers. Senior ladies can share with young mothers the knowledge gained from years of raising children. Senior gentlemen can be the father figure so many men don't have. Elderly members of the church can be the greeters for church events, or their pastors' prayer partners.

Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons. Spring and summer have passed. The leaves are no longer budding and fresh. They have lost their green luster and now take on beautiful colors only by the passage of time. Accordingly, the autumn of life can be a beautiful season for an elderly loved one; the passing of time has only increased his or her loveliness. Take time to allow them to share their memories. Learn from their colorful life experiences and celebrate each moment as a gift from God.

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By Claudio Consuegra. Reprinted with permission from Mid-America Outlook, October 2006. The original title was "What to do with mom." Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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