Five Things to Consider When Taking Care of an Elderly Loved OneSeptember 27, 2022
Beginning the journey of caring for an elderly loved one brings a whirlwind of changes. You are no longer responsible for your life and your life alone. Suddenly, another human being depends on your care—and it is far different from supervising a child. Unlike a child, your elderly parent or loved one used to be able to handle their daily tasks themselves. They may be resistant to suddenly having someone else take the reins.
This new arrangement may initially be difficult for you and your family member. After spending one’s whole life caring for oneself and others, becoming the one who receives said care is an uncomfortable role reversal. It will take some time to reestablish boundaries, but in time, you will find that rhythm.
As you move through the motions to get to this point, however, there are some things you should keep in mind to help your family member, and yourself, settle into your new roles. Here are five things to consider when taking care of an elderly loved one that you may not have thought of before.
Five Things to Consider When Taking Care of an Elderly Loved One
Coordinate care with family
When the time to care for an elderly parent or another family member arises, many make the mistake of shouldering it on their own. This does not have to, and should not be, the case for you. If you have other family members living in the area, you can work together to create a schedule of care for your loved one.
Sit down with one another and figure out how much time each of you can offer outside your work schedule. For some families, this might mean alternating care every other day. For others, it may mean one cares for your loved one during the week, and the other takes over on the weekends. Make sure you create a schedule that not only works for the caregivers but the care recipient as well.
Not everyone has additional family members who can assist with care. However, there may be other people in your life who can help. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and neighbors to take a load off your shoulders now and again.
Assist with meal preparation
Sometimes, older adults get tired of cooking after doing so for 30, 40, or even 50 years. Other times, seniors may struggle handling knives due to arthritis. Whatever it is that causes your loved one to pause their cooking regimen, make it easier for them by assisting with meal preparation.
Your family member’s mobility and desire will determine how much preparation you will have to assist with. For instance, is it the act of grocery shopping that they struggle with? Or is it coming up with a new dinner every night that they dread?
Talk with your loved one about what it is they dislike about cooking and make a plan of action. Some seniors may benefit greatly from a meal delivery service where they throw ingredients in a pan to make dinner. For others, you may have to cook meals each week that they can throw in the oven or microwave.
Create social opportunities
When seniors live at home alone, social opportunities are limited. The dangers of isolation are about more than accidents in the home. Loneliness in seniors is correlated with serious health conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Help your loved ones stay sharp by encouraging them to be active within their communities.
Avid readers can find a local book club. Expert knitters can join a knitting circle. Golfers can join a golf club. No matter what your family member enjoys, there is a community of like-minded individuals for them to get to know.
Regular visits with family are just as beneficial. Try to schedule semi-regular family gatherings, such as a weekly family dinner or a monthly picnic. If the rest of the family lives too far away for regular visits, help your loved one with Zoom calls and messaging.
Look for necessary home modifications
Unfortunately, not all homes are built “senior-friendly.” When mobility grows to be a problem, you will need to assess your loved one’s home for necessary safety modifications. It will obviously depend upon your family member’s needs, but some important changes might include:
- Installing handrails and grab bars by the toilet and shower
- Installing a raised toilet
- Removing rugs or investing in high-quality non-slip rug pads
- Adding a bath mat to the shower floor to reduce the risk of slips and falls
Have an open and honest conversation with them that clearly assesses what their needs may be. This way, you can ensure their home is as safe as possible.
If your family member does not require medical care, consider a home caregiver
Chances are, if you provide long-term care to a family member in their home, you are doing so as an alternative to an assisted living facility or nursing home. You may think that in order to keep your loved one at home you have to be there at all hours of the day, but that is not necessarily true. You can enlist the help of an at-home caregiver.
At-home caregivers can assist your family member with all the non-medical activities of daily living they struggle with. For some, this may mean medication reminders and companionship. For others, it may mean personal care– like bathing and toileting. Your loved one’s care options are determined by their needs, and a good agency can help identify what those needs are.
Qualified caregivers with Home Care Powered by AUAF
For nearly 30 years, Home Care Powered by AUAF has provided seniors in the greater Chicago area the support they need to live independently in their homes. Clients not only benefit from having their daily tasks managed, but their families benefit from the peace of mind that support provides.
If you have an elderly loved one in Cook or Lake County who would benefit from the care of a professional, we can help. From meal preparation to bathing, to simply being a regular companion, our caregivers are here to support you and your family.
To learn more about our caregiving program, call us at 773-274-9262.
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