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!