The scope of this article is to give you an idea of some of the do's and don'ts of caring for an elderly loved one. Bear in mind that individuals with disabilities will require more patience and understanding than those who are more capable. With a little bit of knowledge and forethought we can increase the effectiveness and support our parents as they age in place.
Some elderly loved ones may say their needs are met, but this is often due to many seniors resistance to complaining. Their generation has experienced and overcome many challenges and difficulties which reduces their need to complain about what they consider minor inconveniences. Deep down, however, these very same individuals may not getting the care they deserve or desire. This in itself is a huge gap that can be filled by caregivers who wish to provide better senior home care.
The best way to fill this gap is for caregivers to remember a few important things as you care for your aging parent or parents. Caring for the whole person is very important. This includes physical, emotional and spiritual health. The way you make the person you are caring for feel will often determine the strength of the bond and how effective your care-giving will be.
One thing is for certain, the elderly require much more attention and care as they age. Something else we need to be aware of is that they are more vulnerable. During this time of their life, it is our responsibility to give back and show our parents how much we appreciate the love and care shown to us during the childhood years.
The best way to do this is to make sure our elderly parents feel loved and well cared for. After all, they are becoming more dependent on younger, energetic people to take care of tasks they are no longer capable of doing. At times, there are tasks that they are capable of performing, but they require so much time and energy it no longer the best use of their resources. Plus, there is also distinct need for someone who is able to take time to talk to them and serve as a companion.
The sandwich generation is finding it challenging to provide personal care and cater to seniors' needs when they have so many other things that require their attention. Finding a balance between caring for your parent, taking care of your family (kids and grandkids), work, your appointments and errands can seem impossible. As times this can lead to caregiver burnout and stress. Make sure your take time for yourself as well.
If you are the primary caregiver for your elderly loved one, it would be beneficial to have another paid caregiver to assist at times. Finding and hiring a paid caregiver can be challenging, but worth the effort so that you have some help and your parent has consistency in those caring for them. Another good option to allow you to take a vacation or get a much needed day of rest is to consider short term respite care for the elderly.
Let's face it, life can be less fun as you age. While this often depends on the individual's mindset, challenges that come with aging affect everyone regardless of their wealth and status. In many cases, seniors experience illness, boredom, pain, sadness, and loneliness. What's more, by accepting assistance, they're admitting they are declining and may eventually become fully dependent on another person. This can cause the feeling that they are losing their dignity to those who take care of them.
Think about it for a moment. They have to listen to you as their carer and be willing to take orders. This is a significant role reversal. They have spent their entire lives thinking of you as their baby or child and now it is necessary for you to direct their care. It is a hard pill to swallow. It is hard for us as the children to be assertive enough to provide assistance even when they claim they don't want or need it.
It is your job as a caregiver to help them feel less of a burden and give them the utmost respect so they may retain their dignity at all times. Doing this will make a huge difference in the way y'all communicate and their willingness to listen.
While taking care of seniors in their home, encourage them to take care of certain tasks they can still perform. This allows them to feel less of a burden and increase feeling of independence. At the same time, they will be more willing to accept help from you. This will allow you to help with activities they are truly not capable of doing, or have become so time and energy consuming that they are exhausted the rest of the day.
As mentioned previously, aging is not easy. Requiring assistance from a child for something that is required for living at home feels like a loss of independence. There may be other emotional concerns that are not expressed but can weigh on our loved ones.
All too often, senior loved ones feel their kids do not care for them as much as they should. As they are requiring more assistance, they can begin to lose sight of the big picture while focusing on their own challenges. Our aging parents may forget or devalue the fact that we have our own lives and children to care for. This is not easy and unfortunately it is not uncommon. If they begin to feel this way, a sense of abandonment can appear. Encouraging other friends, and family members to call and visit can help reduce these feelings. Also a consistent and supportive caregiver from outside the family can take on some of the burden to reduce abandonment concerns.
With increasing age, it is common to begin to think more about death. While this is normal, an excessive preoccupation with death is not healthy. This can make them seem troubled to their children and caregivers and is hard to understand. It may be helpful to encourage them to focus on things they enjoy, live in the moment and be grateful for the blessings in their life. Often mom may not want to hear the "bright side" if she is feeling down but consistent encouragement and a gratitude practice has been shown to improve peoples baseline happiness level.
As people age, their immune system starts to weaken, making them more vulnerable to sicknesses such as arthritis, high or low blood pressure, diabetes, and so forth. These illnesses are often progressive and pose a threat to their quality of life. Thus, it places an extra responsibility on carers to pay special attention to their needs.
There is so much to consider when taking care of an elderly person who has become dependent on others without making them feel they are a burden.
It starts with understanding their needs before they even ask for help. At times this may be as simple as making sure they are comfortable on their couch or chair. Sitting down and watching a show with them can be good company for them. They will appreciate the time you've taken to spend quality time with them.
Ask their primary care physician to confirm light exercise is safe. What you may consider light activity may be very taxing on our aging loved ones so keep this in mind. Jogging a few miles and performing squats and push ups are not necessary to help improve strength and endurance. See these knee exercises for some examples of exercises that may be helpful. Also walking around the house or driveway until slightly short of breath or repeated chair standing are good exercises as well. This will help prevent or slow a decline in mobility which is often the cause of a fall. Prevention of falling will increase mom's ability to safely remain at home more than any other factor.
You as a caregiver play a very important part in helping seniors prepare healthy meals, taking their medication on time, and getting them to exercise. Another important role is providing assistance for ADLs that might be too hard for them to manage independently. An example of this is bathing or dressing like fastening zippers and buttons.
The first step to emotional wellness is to be aware of your emotions and knowing how to express them healthily. Emotionally stable seniors will have a more positive outlook on what they are surrounded with, and they will manage their feelings a lot better. Best of all, they will cope much better with stress. However, things like retirement, the death of a loved such as a spouse and serious illness often lead to depression among seniors.
This is where we can make a huge difference by providing comfort when needed. Listening for clues to the cause of anger or frustration will help us not take it personally when our loved one lashes out. It is often the case that there is an underlying issue which is causing the mood change and not the actual precipitating event. For example when dad is instantly upset by the lunch provided, it could be that he misses how his wife used to prepare it. It could be grief over a lost love one and may not actually be anger at the soup provided.
A person's social wellness involves:
Aging seniors, in particular, are often limited socially as their friends may be passing away, family is grown up and has their own families to care for and a reduced ability to get around and drive may increase isolation. This leads to increased risk of developing depression. As a result, they may start overeating, drink more alcohol or neglect their personal care.
It would be extremely beneficial for the elderly to participate in leisure activities such as playing musical instruments, board games, dancing, and reading. Those who are encouraged to participate in these activities live much longer and are at lower risk of dementia. Encouraging our loved ones to continue these activities before they give them up entirely will go a long way to improving quality of life and maintain cognitive abilities.
It is obviously challenging for senior loved ones who no longer drive and who live in a community where they cannot walk to participate in various activities.
If you or another caregiver can offer transportation, it will be a tremendous asset as they can go to the grocery store, the doctor's office, their church, public parks, and other community centers. Aging seniors who are encouraged to pursue all kinds of hobbies are more likely to share what they know with like-minded individuals at senior community centers or adult day care centers. This is an excellent way to alleviate depression.
Home care for seniors is highly recommended. It forms part of creating a strong foundation for the elderly who needs help with ADLs, companionship, and developing new friendships with other seniors in a similar situation. Home care services provide support in various cases and ensure that elderly loved ones get the respect they deserve and are well taken care of.
The primary mission of any of us a primary caregiver is to improve the quality of life of elderly loved ones. This will reduce our worry as we will have peace of mind, knowing the needs of our parents are seen to properly.
After all, during these golden years, life should be made more enjoyable and easier to cope with for seniors who too did their part by caring for their children's needs in their younger years. Thankfully, caregivers like yourself can make difference in the lives of the elderly who will benefit ten-fold from the type of services you render. We take our hats off to you for being willing and able to provide loving care to senior loved ones who without our help would be left to their own devices, face depression, and lack understanding and support. Know that your self-sacrificing love and going the extra mile is much appreciated.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
There is no need to feel intimidated in any way by the complexity of new tech devices. All it takes is to follow instructions, and a little bit of guidance for your aging parent, and they too can discover how simple it is to use most modern-day gadgets. Before long, you both will realize just how useful modern technology turns out to be in reducing caregiver burnout and stress and keeping your loved ones safe.
Phyllis is forever grateful that she was able to get her parents are on board with technology. This allows her to keep tabs on their daily whereabouts and ensure her parents are only a text message away. It is especially useful when they are out and about and helps reduce her worry.
The same cannot be said of her mother-in-law, who seems to be anti-technology, even though she has no problem watching TV. It makes her wonder how long it will be before her husband's mother needs to move into a senior care facility. Her lack of activity, increasing isolation and declining mobility are pointing to a time she is no longer safe at home.
But, on the other hand, her parents prove to be an excellent role model for her hubby's mom. With some encouragement and a new understanding of what it takes to age in place, it is just a matter of time before Jenny, her mom-in-law, starts realizing the numerous benefits of modern technology.
Phyllis thought it would be a brilliant idea to do a bit of research around the uses of modern-day technology and how it can make life easier for the elderly. She was blown away once she realized just how much it means to senior people.
Follow along as we delve deeper into some of the benefits of modern technology:
Phyllis is glad she did a bit of research as she discovered firsthand how technology had impacted society. Through these modern-day tools, she can be assured of her own parents' ability to age in place with only minimal need from an in home caregiver.
Phyllis has realized that senior individuals are often overlooked when it comes to the design of modern technologies. Especially if you consider the fact that their motor skills, sight, and hearing are likely declining as they age. We mustn't underestimate how quickly they can adapt to the ever-evolving technology landscape as any other age group would.
The coronavirus pandemic is proof of just how able seniors are to use new technologies such as Zoom and FaceTime when necessary. Many has to hop on a call with their physician using Telemedicine during this time.
Jack and Charlotte, Phyllis' parents, were keen to learn more about some of these favorite tech services and hopped onto their daughter's computer to find out how they too can benefit from these modern-day technological advancements.
Mobile applications or apps are the most easily accessible technology for seniors as they come preloaded on a cell phone or table. Other additional apps can be found in the app store to fit your needs. Many are free but some have a small up front cost. This list from senior living is a good place to start discovering new apps that are helpful for seniors.
Jack was super excited to find out how much easier their lives can be when using food delivery apps. He discovered Door Dash and Uber Eats for take-out delivery from local restaurants. HelloFresh and Home chef are options for meal kits to be delivered to your home with instructions for preparation. Silver Cuisine meals are prepackaged and prepared so that all you need to do is heat them up. Instacart is for grocery shopping without ever leaving the house.
Charlotte does not always trust their judgement when driving, while they are safe in the car now, she knows this will not always be the case. She is relieved to know that with the use of mobile apps like Lyft or Uber they will be able to get where they need to go when driving is no longer an option.
Their other daughter lives in the country, but it is no problem as video chatting apps such as Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype helps them connect with her at a suitable time where they get to see her smiling face and check in on their grandchildren.
Phyllis is well aware that both her parents and mother-in-law have some of the best smartphones on hand, but cannot help but wonder if there is any other modern tech she can get them to make life easier.
She learned that e-Readers and Tablets are just as useful. Her father is more of a bookworm, so she will get him an E-Reader to store his favorite books and quickly find his way to the next chapter whenever it suits him to do so.
Her mom loves watching movies, so a Tablet with its bigger screen would be the perfect device to ensure hours of entertainment.
Both Jack and Charlotte are still very active for their age. It would be great to let them use fitness trackers like Fitbit that also doubles as a wristwatch. These gadgets are waterproof and connect to a person's smartphone. The device monitors your steps, number of calories burned, heart rate, and even your sleep.
Phyllis can sleep better at night, knowing that modern technologies like these will improve the quality of life for both her parents and mom in law.
As we have discovered, our loved ones can benefit from modern technologies to improve the quality of their life and help them age in place for as long as possible. They can now be more connected than ever before to those whom they care about. And it also helps keeps them safe, so that you and their caregivers can worry less. A great example is when a loved one has forgotten to take their medicine, and you get an alert on your phone, so you can remind them of the medication schedule. Another way to reduce caregiver worry are the apps like emergency response systems or PERS in a medical emergency.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
Hospice and palliative care are in place for people who have very significant medical illness, maybe even end of life care. They are now in need of comforting, competent, and compassionate care. Nurses within hospice care know there is a difference between these two terms. While they have been used interchangeably in the past, they are not the same.
The best way to know the difference between hospice care and palliative care is to learn the meaning of each.
This is for the loved one who is nearing the end of their life. They will ultimately succumb to an incurable disease. They will get special treatment by healthcare professionals trained for this purpose. Hospice care aims to provide symptom relief. Therefore, the person may live their last weeks or months as comfortably as possible. During this time, you as the caregiver and your loved one will need a lot of emotional support.
Chronically ill persons may transition to hospice care when diagnosed as terminally ill. They would have come to a point where they are nearing the end of their lives as they only have six months or less to live in the view of their primary physician.
Many hospitals and nursing homes offer hospice care. You can also elect to receive this care in the comfort of home. It will involve doctors, nurses, family members, caregivers. Even clergy persons are available to provide comfort to your loved ones at this time.
Those with a chronic illness needing a better life will receive palliative care. Cancer patients, those with AIDS or severe kidney disease often receive palliative care. Some talk about this type of care as palliative medicine. This is the type of treatment that eases one's pain.
Dealing with an illness makes it harder to get around, play, or work. In many instances, it leads to anxiety and depression. Palliative care is often needed for cases like these.
Phyllis and her family are concerned about her mother-in-law's health. They want to know in advance the best way to decide between hospice care and palliative care. She recalls how one of her friends felt paralyzed trying help her own ill father make these decisions.
In that case, her friend realized the extent of her dad's health issues when one test after the other indicated pancreatic cancer. At that time, her mind was flooded with all kinds of questions about the best way to care for her father's health.
Her dad's doctor laid out the proposed treatment plan. It would involve either hospice or palliative care at some point. The friend knew she would have to learn more about the best way forward to care for her aging father.
He has always been such a healthy guy, so she was concerned about which way would be best for him. Would he be better off opting for palliative care, or would hospice be more suitable?
Phyllis' friend learned hospice and palliative care are for those who face a life-threatening illness. They take a holistic approach to caring for a patient. Furthermore, serious illness does not only affect your body, it also has a severe implication for one's mind and spirit.
Both programs provide counseling, managing your symptoms, administering medication, and day-to-day care. Also, they are offered as outpatient or inpatient services. Allowing your loved one to choose to stay at home, or if more intensive care is needed, to go to a center designed for this type of care.
The key difference between hospice vs palliative care is that hospice care is reserved for the terminally ill. The patient will likely only live for a few months and will not be receiving any further medical treatment to extend their life.
Palliative care will be given to a person with a serious diagnosis in need of treatment. This way, they will address the side effects much better than any traditional treatment would. Physical and occupational therapies may also be provided for rehabilitative services in addition to care provided by a doctor, nurse, social workers, and counselors.
Phyllis discovered how difficult it could be to deal with her own parents and her mother-in-law's illnesses. It is unbearable to even think about the prospect of losing a loved one. But for our sake and theirs, it is critical to find the right type of care once they become chronically ill.
Either hospice or palliative care will help them feel better emotionally and help reduce or remove their pain. It will allow you and the rest of the family to cope, knowing the needs of your loved ones are taken care of. Hospice and palliative programs provide family counseling. This can be particularly useful for supporting your family through the ups and downs of a chronically ill elderly parent. You should not be put in a situation where you must navigate the serious illness or the end of your loved one's life alone.
Palliative care can help to make your loved one's life a lot easier and bearable while under treatment. You may not be able to control the outcome of your elderly family member's illness. But, you will be happy to know they are well cared for by people who have their best interest at heart. Your mind can rest easy knowing your loved one is well supported by people who care for them.
The main difference between hospice care and palliative care is the length of time this care is provided. Hospice care is usually provided for a shorter duration of time as it is reserved for those in their last 6 months of life. There are no longer life saving procedures provided while under hospice care.
Either hospice or palliative care can be provided at home, clinics, nursing homes or hospitals.
Palliative care is administered at any stage, right from the time of the diagnosis to hope for a cure. This type of treatment cures the patient's disease and is used with life-sustaining therapies. It is not expected of the patient to give up their fight for recovery.
Hospice care involves patients whose doctors have told them that they only have six months or less to live. Like palliative care, your loved one will receive the necessary care to make their time as peaceful and comfortable as possible. The only difference is that any attempt to cure the illness is stopped. Hospice patients will not be given any tests or medicines they do not need, as they may cause discomfort and at this point will not improve the chances of recovery. The goal of hospice care personnel is not to prolong the patient's life in their care. It is to ensure the person approaching death lives their last months without too much pain and discomfort.
One aspect that may be a reason for concern for family members of a hospice patient is the cost associated with it. But as long as it was pre-determined that the patient will only live for six months, they would qualify for insurance coverage. In this case, Phyllis and her family will not be responsible for the medical bill once her mother-in-law becomes terminally ill. Check with your loved ones insurance provider to confirm requirements for coverage.
Irrespective of the differences between hospice vs palliative care, the ultimate goal of both of these is to:
Neither hospice care nor palliative care requires you to give up seeing a doctor. And palliative care complements the curative treatments and care you receive from your physician. Both options are designed to provide the best outcomes for your loved one during this difficult time.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
To get power of attorney for elderly parents requires them to give authorization in front of a notary. In the case of Guardianship, you would need probate court approval, and it is a requirement to prove through medical statements that your elderly parents are incapable of caring for themselves. Phyllis and her family are keen to learn more about the health care power of attorney and how to easily obtain the necessary documents, making it possible to care for the needs of her mother-in-law.
The saying make hay while the sun shines could not be truer in the case of getting power of attorney sooner than later.
5 easy steps to make this happen:
Power of attorney generally means the person or elderly individual in need of such services would authorize one of their friends or family members to manage their finances and conduct business on their behalf. This document is also known as a durable financial power of attorney. A health care POA is one of 3 advance directives. A living will and health care proxy are the other two.
Essentially, there are four types of power of attorney legal documents:
This brings us to another question often asked.
As a whole, a power of attorney document is effective for the person's lifetime unless the person concerned chooses to revoke it. In most cases, though, the person who has been given power of attorney will be responsible for decisions until the elderly person passes away.
Phyllis and her family realized the importance of obtaining a power of attorney to comfortably take care of her mother in law's medical needs and finances. But, to do this correctly without any hiccups along the way, she needed to be sure about the power of attorney rights and responsibilities.
The attorney she approached to ease her mind gave Phyllis the low down of what the principal or her mom in law's rights are and what her rights would be as a representative.
The POA does not give the representative the right to:
You may have heard of Guardianship and wondered how it compares to the power of attorney. Isn't it the same thing? Let's have a look.
To put it in a nutshell, the key difference between POA and Guardianship is that the person concerned has the freedom to choose who they want to have power of attorney over their finances or health care and the actions that would be allowed. A guardianship, on the other hand is a court-appointed position.
Phyllis thought about it long and hard and did the necessary research to calm her mind and be sure she will choose the right option. In our humble opinion, the best choice with a lot less red tape involved would be settling for power of attorney for elderly parents.
The question as to which one (power of attorney vs. Guardianship) is better can be summed up as follow:
If your elderly parent is fully compos mentis (of sound mind) and agreeable to the idea, then your most logical step would be to get them to sign a power of attorney. This takes the form of a document to be signed or voluntarily by a competent person who understands what it would mean for them. In this regard, Phyllis' mother-in-law had no trouble signing the POA as her daughter-in-law demonstrated her trustworthiness as a fully capable and responsible individual.
If a parent is mentally incapable of deciding whether or not they should allow you to act on their behalf by means of a POA, a guardianship or conservatorship order may be necessary.
Does this mean that a person who is not of sound mind, for example a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia, must automatically settle for Guardianship? Or is power of attorney still an option for them?
Once established that an elderly parent is in the early stages of dementia, it may still be possible to get what they would call a durable power of attorney since they have lost little mental capacity at this stage.
As they still have a significant amount of mental capacity, they can still make informed decisions regarding their healthcare and finances. As time goes by, they may lose their ability to make sound decisions related to complex issues regarding their health, for which a power of attorney health care would come in very handy. This simpler decisions still are well within their means for quite some time.
In this case, the person concerned can authorize a lasting power of attorney, which should be done with a lawyer to guarantee their best interests.
Aging can be a bittersweet experience. Watching our loved ones lose some of their independence and require assistance for day to day activities can be difficult. Remember the enjoyment of previous quality time and make the most of your future interactions. Y'all can still experience many wonderful years together. Getting a power of attorney for elderly parents is a wise decision. It will ensure the transition into a later stage of their life where they can no longer make their own decisions is as smooth as possible. Some uncomfortable conversations and a little preparation will go a long way.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!