A Guide On How To Care For An Elderly Relative At Home
Old age is, as they say, a privilege, and we should be grateful for it. Not everyone can achieve this; it is a privilege with several problems associated with it. Old age means less mobility, sometimes less cognitive function, and often it means a lot more requirement for some kind of care.
Family members can sometimes help in this regard, and here are some ways you can do it if you feel that your elderly relative wants that help.
Know The Whole Situation
Sometimes it is difficult to see exactly what the situation is when it comes to loved ones and their health. It could be that family members don’t want to think about it, especially if there is a serious condition behind the problems that their relative might be facing. Even if it is ‘just’ old age, it’s still a somewhat disturbing thought and isn’t something that everyone is happy to deal with.
If you are going to look after and care for an elderly relative, then it is vital that you know precisely what the entire situation is. This way, you can be prepared for what is to come, and know how to deal with problems as they arise. It will also allow you to determine whether you can give your loved one the care that they need.
How Much Care?
Part of knowing the entire situation revolving around your relative’s state of health is understanding exactly how much care is required. Are they relatively mobile and just need a phone call once a day to check in on them? Or do they need help getting to the store? These issues can be dealt with efficiently, and don’t require much of a change to anyone’s routine, ensuring that everyone can go on as before.
It might be more than this, though. Perhaps their home needs to be changed around so that they don’t have to use the stairs. It could even be that they require 24-hour care. Everyone is different, and each situation must be dealt with on its own merits which is why you should be honest and truthful about what is happening even if you don’t like the answers that are coming.
However much you might want to, caring for an elderly relative is not something that you can do completely by yourself. If you have a job, whether full time or part-time, you may need someone to help out while you are out of the house. Even if you don’t work, you will still need breaks once in a while; you’ll need to recharge and get some fresh air, head to the store, go for a walk, even go on a vacation if you want to – you can’t allow your caring duties to stop you from living your own life.
When you want and need to do these things, you will need help to ensure you can do it and still have someone caring for your loved one. You should choose whoever you feel most comfortable with, and, of course, your loved one should have a say if they can. It might be that you ask a neighbor to drop by while you are at work, or a family member who lives nearby. In more serious cases, you might need to hire a care worker or nurse to help out. Assess the situation and your own needs, and you should be able to make the right choice.
If there is no one who can help and your relative is active and mobile but is getting frail, for example, and can certainly be left to manage well on their own, then you might consider installing motion sensors, for example. If something were to happen and your loved one falls or becomes ill and doesn’t move for a specified amount of time, the alert will tell you this, and you can contact them to check they are all right.
If you are not planning to live with your elderly relative, then visiting them regularly is hugely important. They may not see anyone from one day to the next, especially if their mobility is declining and they can’t get out as much as they used to. Therefore, a visit from you and other friends and family members can help them to feel more positive and happier in general, and this will boost their mood and even help with healing in some cases. Plus you can check that everything is as it should be and that they are coping on their own.
Talk to your elderly relatives about when they were children and the fun they had. Ask them questions and discuss the news of the day. Talk about anything and everything; when they are gone you will have these chats to cherish, and you will learn a lot about yourself in the process.
If you can’t visit in person because you live too far away, or because your schedule won’t allow it (although in this case, it is crucial to make time when you can) then try using technology to connect with your family member. Don’t assume that just because they are elderly, they won’t be able to use or understand video calling, for example – it might be the only way to stay in touch so don’t dismiss it out of hand.
Not all elderly people can stay at home and be cared for there or can look after themselves. Sometimes it will be the best course of action to look at senior care homes so that you know they are being given all the support and care, both physical and emotional, that they need.
Take your time over this decision and ensure that, if possible, the person who will be moving to the home has a say as well. They need to be happy and be aware of what is happening around them if they are well enough to do so. Senior care homes are often wonderful places that can do much more for people than staying in their own home ever could. It will be a massive change, but one that will hopefully benefit everyone involved.