Opinion: Dear Susi Q

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Dear Susi Q: 

My 90-year-old mother is demanding a lot from me in terms of time commitments. I love her and want to be there for her, but the stress is overwhelming with my work and other family pressures. How can I balance these different demands? 

Susi Q’s Director of Care Management Martha Hernandez responds: 

To balance your time, let’s start with a practical approach. I encourage you to look at your typical week. Make a list of the things you have to take care of and how much time they involve: work, grocery shopping, cooking, errands, etc. Then, add what you need to do to unwind and take care of yourself: a bath, meditation, or exercise.  

How much time can you commit to helping your mom without burning out?  

Knowing this can help you see how much time you have available, and then you can focus on supporting her in the ways that feel most important to you both. This means having a conversation with your mom. You can tell her, “I have four hours per week that I can spend with you. How can I be most supportive during that time?”

Perhaps she would prefer a nice lunch with you or have you present at doctor’s appointments.  

As the director of care management, I have a vast network of resources at my fingertips that can help your mother, which in turn can

help you, the caregiver. For example, Sally’s Fund offers rides to medical appointments, and the Susi Q, through its Lifelong Laguna program, also has a network of volunteers who can help. These Lifelong Laguna volunteers will also shop for groceries and pick up medication as needed.  

“Friendly visitors” can drop by to spend time with her and ease her loneliness.

Meals on Wheels, administered by Age Well Senior Services, is another resource here at the Susi Q. 

Susi Q’s mission is to enable locals to age in place – in other words, to stay safely and happily in their homes for as long as possible.

Rickie Redman, our Director of Aging in Place Services, and I are both certified to conduct home modification assessments.

We identify ways to keep seniors like your mother safe, for example, suggesting that area rugs are removed and grab bars installed. That can offer you some peace of mind. And peace of mind is very important. You might want to take advantage of our grant-funded “Feeling the Blues” program. Licensed therapists are available to guide you through the complex emotions that are common at this time. 

I hope you’ll call so we can figure out solutions to your particular challenges. That’s what Susi Q is here for. All calls and communications are completely confidential. My email is [email protected], or call (949) 715-8104. You can also visit www.thesusiq.org to learn more about the services we offer. 

“Dear Susi Q,” brought to you by nonprofit Laguna Beach Seniors, is intended to provide readers with helpful advice on relationships, retirement, home safety, transportation, mental/physical health, and local entertainment and educational resources. It’s “Dear Abby” for the Laguna Beach crowd.  

Qualified staff, support group leaders, and volunteers stand ready to answer your questions, so please send them to [email protected]. We can’t wait to help.  

No identifying names will ever be used. Some questions, such as today’s, may be a composite of several submitted.   

For more information about Susi Q and Laguna Beach Seniors, visit www.thesusiq.org.

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