Taking Care Of Elderly Relatives: Helpful Advice
Due to excellent healthcare and people living longer, more of us than ever are lucky enough to have our parents and grandparents into old age. Having this time to spend with us and our own children is incredibly precious, although it can come with its challenges. Caring for the people who once cared for us can be a strange new reality to face. Here are some of the ways you can make sure your elderly loved ones are happy and well looked after, just as they made sure you were while you were growing up.
Can They Manage Their Daily Needs?
Is your loved one able to wash, dress, eat and use the toilet by themselves? If they take medication, are they able to take this each day without forgetting or taking too much? Depending on the severity of their needs, they may still be able to live at home and have a carer or family member come in each day to help them. If they just need help with tasks like cooking and cleaning, there are companies out there who can provide this. When it comes to medication, you could buy a pill box with each day of the week labeled on it, and divide up their medication each week if they’re able to take each day’s tablets safely.
You could help them out by taking care of their bills to make sure everything stays running smoothly in the home, setting up internet banking on their account and setting up direct debits with their bills can make life easier. If they call their bill providers while they’re lucid, they could explain the situation to them and have you put down as a trusted name on the account.
That way if you need to get in contact or sort anything out later down the line it can be done without issues. If their needs are more complex and you’re not able to meet them without constant care, it’s worth considering a nursing home. Nursing home regulations mean that patients are kept safe from harm and abuse. So this can give you the peace of mind that they’re clean, well fed and happy when you’re not there to look after them.
Is Living Independently Safe?
Mental health conditions such as Alzheimer’s might mean that living independently is dangerous. During an episode of confusion, people have been known to wander out of the house and end up in hazardous situations. Again this can be a tricky one if your loved one is lucid for a lot of the time they might feel as though they don’t need to leave their home. However, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, anyone with this diagnosis is at risk of wandering.
If it’s the early stages of the disease, they may still be able to stay at home and make a few simple changes to ensure their safety. As with those suffering from physical difficulties, hiring a service to provide cleaning and meals can help. Certain mental and physical difficulties can affect balance and lead to falls, in older people whose bones are weaker this is particularly dangerous.
Many older adults who fracture their hip never make it out of the hospital afterward, so it’s crucial to prevent this. It might be a case of moving their bedroom downstairs, so they’re not struggling with them or risking falls on them. They may need their bathroom adapted to make getting in and out of the tub or shower easier depending on their condition.
Can They Drive As Well As They Once Did?
Making the decision to stop driving can be a difficult one for older adults. Driving gives so much independence, and for many, it provides them with an efficient means to get around outside the house. But if your loved one’s driving has taken a turn for the worst or they’ve been diagnosed with certain medical conditions, it might be time for them to stop.
Response times can slow down as we age, but conditions causing weakness, eyesight problems, heart conditions and memory problems can all be dangerous. Not only do you have to think of your loved one on the road, but the people they could potentially hurt if an incident were to occur. You might have to have a chat and encourage them to speak to their GP to make a decision.
Are They Lonely?
It’s so easy for older people to feel isolated and lonely. Medical issues can mean it’s difficult to go out for long, leading them to have to spend a lot of time at home. If they live alone especially, this can be a big problem. One of the ways you can care for elderly loved ones is by making time for them and being sure their emotional needs are being met. You could call in for a cup of tea and a chat, you could arrange a family meal at their home, or you could take them out if it’s safe and practical to do so.
Another way you could make sure elderly relatives are easily able to keep in contact with others is by teaching them to use the computer. Video chats are useful to keep in touch with those who have moved away or aren’t able to see them in person as much as they’d like. Even social media is useful for the elderly since they are able to keep up to date with friends and family members online without feeling completely isolated or out of the loop. There’s technology which makes using a computer easier for those with sight or hearing difficulties, so getting them all set up on this is a way they’re able to keep on contact.
As the old saying goes, age is a privilege denied to many. Caring for elderly relatives can be tricky, especially at first as it can mean a big change in your own routine. It can also mean making tough decisions that you’d probably rather not make. But family, are the most important people of all, so it’s worth it to make sure they’re happy and healthy in the winter of their lives.