Full-time home schooling is a big commitment of time, and energy, and money. But what happens when a family faces the need to care for elderly parents as well? Join host Mike Farris as he talks about managing the stresses of these challenges. That’s today on Home School Heartbeat.
Mike Farris: As the father of ten, with parents nearing 90 years old, my family is just beginning to experience the challenge that this season of life can bring.
But being the generation between the aging and the young has its upside, too. Our children have the privilege of watching and learning, and helping care for their aging grandparents.
Though families have hard choices to make to meet all these needs, there are community programs and church support that can help. But when you’re considering how to teach your children about God’s command to honor your parents, what better way to train them than by the example that you set?
One homeschooling family I know made the decision to take their aging grandfather into their home after he suffered a stroke. He became a beloved member both of their family and their church family. Over the years, fond memories of Grampa singing hymns when he could no longer speak mixed with some of the more difficult times.
These kids watched and helped as their parents worked through meeting his ever more complicated needs as he declined. What a real life educational opportunity.
If your family is struggling to manage both homeschooling and the needs of aging parents, tune in this week as we talk about some of the tools that will really help you manage this complicated time. God can provide just the needed balance to help make this a season of blessing the whole family will look back on and celebrate. I’m Mike Farris.
Mike Farris: Our guest today is Josh Fotheringham. Josh, welcome to the program.
Josh Fotheringham: Thanks, Mike. I’m really happy to be here.
Mike: Josh, you were formerly a software developer for Apple and have worked with Fortune 500 companies. What got you interested in elder care?
Josh: Well it’s a great question, Mike. There really is no community that is in more desperate need for innovation than those that really support our aging population, both here in the US and across the globe, so that’s why I’m here.
Mike: Well, tell us about how Caring in Place, this new organization that you’re leading, can help families.
Josh: So, Caring in Place, it’s a free technology solution that helps family members learn how to become family caregivers for their aging loved ones. And we do this through smartphone apps, both for iPhone and Android, as well as through a web portal. And these family members are provided with to-do lists that tell them what to do, when to do it, and also how to care for their aging loved ones. It allows families really to manage medication, receive alerts and notifications when their loved ones need some assistance or help, or even be able to interact directly with their doctors.
Mike: If you’re suddenly facing caring for an aging parent, you’ll want to see these resources that are available to help. I’m Mike Farris.
Mike Farris: Josh, when I think of how busy most homeschooling families are—or really, all families are very busy these days—I wonder how people can take on the additional role of caregiver when their own parents fall ill. How can your program, Caring in Place, help?
Josh Fotheringham: The role of the family caregiver is extremely difficult and it’s also pretty time-consuming. And this role is exponentially harder for those who are also homeschooling and taking care of their own children. Parents that are both raising children and caring for a senior—there’s actually a name for that, it’s called the Sandwich Generation, and most family members are thrown into this role as caregivers for seniors. And they often don’t know what to do or how to do it. And that’s why we’re here. We enable families to know what to do and how to care for their loved ones.
Mike : Josh, what can people do to prepare for this season of life, if they’re not quite there yet?
Josh: That’s a good question, Mike. The preparation really comes in learning what resources are available for them when that time comes. They may not know what health conditions they will be dealing with, but knowing what technology solutions are available are a great place to start in anticipation for that work.
Mike: Planning ahead or whether you’re in the midst of it, the information that is being offered is free and will be very helpful to you. I’m Mike Farris.
Mike Farris: Josh, how do you see Caring in Place being used by a homeschooling family?
Josh Fotheringham: Mike, our solution is free to all families, so it’s as simple as going to our website, which is caringinplace.com, or accessing our apps that are available in both the iPhone store and the Android Place store. From there, a family member will go through our simple setup process and it shouldn’t take more than about five minutes or less to get set up. Then what Caring in Place does is, we generate a care plan for you and for others who will be caring for your loved one. We’ll teach you how to use your smartphone or your computer to become a care coordination expert.
So imagine yourself creating a video with your iPhone and being able to teach siblings or neighbors or even church members how to populate mom’s pill box. This is something that caregivers feel like they are the only ones that are qualified to do this; they go to the appointments and meet with the physicians and understand the medications. But our solution provides that freedom and flexibility to have others involved. So you no longer have to be the only one caring for anyone, and with Caring in Place, caring becomes a community effort.
Mike: If you, like me, are in the midst of caring for elderly parents, you might find Caring in Place to be a very valuable resource. I’m Mike Farris.
Mike Farris: Probably the most challenging part of caring for elderly parents, besides the energy and management skills needed to keep on top of doctors’ visits, medication and dietary needs, insurance, and financial questions, is the busy life that most families with teenagers face at the same time.
When you throw homeschooling on top of caregiving, you’ve got a recipe for a tangled web of overlapping needs.
But families will find that there are real resources available now to help them successfully juggle the needs of grandparents and children, as well as their own. Getting everyone on the same page is essential. Making use of community support, church programs, and other web and smartphone technology to manage schedules and medical needs can keep everyone on the same page. Your tech-savvy youngster may be the one who manages this part of the load.
Getting kids involved in transporting and caring for elderly parents will give them the firsthand understanding of what it takes to meet others’ needs ahead of their own. Grandparents can also bring their wisdom and experience into the homeschool classroom, helping to lift some of the burden on the homeschooling mom, as well.
As one friend shared, caring for two generations simultaneously can be very hard at times. But now, they all remember Grampa’s hugs, his laugh, and the incredible opportunity they had to speak the gospel into his life, to see him daily long for heaven, and to know that he’s now resting with Christ for eternity. I’m Mike Farris.