If you’ve never been through the experience, caring for an older family member can be quite a challenge. Aside from the mental and emotional obstacles that you need to gracefully navigate to get them the help they need, it’s not easy to know what proper elderly care looks like. To help you navigate this part of your life, we’ve provided a quick guide with the most essential aspects of senior care. Here is everything you need to know.
Stay in Touch
Social connectedness is as important for the elderly as it is for anyone else, if not more. As people grow older, they start losing loved ones to death, distance, and busy work schedules. According to Bryan James, an epidemiologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, social activity heavily engages cognitive functions. He found that the rate of cognitive decline in the socially connected elderly is only about half compared to those in social isolation. While you may not think much of your visits to your senior loved ones, science says even a small amount of social connection can drastically increase their quality of life. However, do keep in mind that face-to-face communication is irreplaceable by phone/video calls and messages.
Most people already feel uncomfortable voicing out their needs and wants for the fear of being a burden. While our beloved seniors may not show it, many of them know they are a burden to their families. Not just that, but some get stuck in their parental roles, trying to shield their families from what they are going through. Sometimes, you need to look beyond their “everything is fine” response and observe their body language and their daily lives with a keen and curious eye. Chances are, you’ll start seeing a few areas in which they might need help, be it with the daily meals, grocery shopping, or even moving about the house. However, when you notice a need you can fill, be sure to tactfully handle the matter. Instead of forcing help upon them, discuss the matter, but try to remain respectful of their boundaries.
Seek Professional Help
In many countries, especially in Australia – where seniors make up quite a large percentage of the population, it’s a common misconception that hiring professional care for the elderly is a family’s easy way out when the responsibilities get too much. The truth is, we cannot monitor our elderly at all times without neglecting our own lives – children, careers, private lives, and relationships. It’s definitely alright to hire professional care services that are beneficial to both sides, as Arcare provides aged care services in Melbourne by means of offering different residences and assistance from trained and certified professionals. While we can exhibit ‘care’ for them, we’re obviously untrained for it. All in all, it’s a much better idea to let the professionals do what they do best. Remember, care isn’t the same as love. Your elderly need you and your love. If you’re constantly burnt out trying to juggle between your life and their well-being, there won’t be much of you left to provide love and emotional support, and connection.
Even the simplest house modification can greatly help any senior in need. As people get older, arthritis often flares up, making it harder to get up from low seats, especially toilet seats. Installing a raised toilet seat can help them easily sit and get off without their knees and back suffering. Meanwhile, other more advanced gadgets, like motion-sensing night lights, can make their lives easier by saving them a dangerous walk across a dark hallway. Sound amplifiers can help alert the hard of hearing when the doorbell rings.
While these modifications are designed to meet specific needs, there are some basic alterations that meet the needs of most seniors:
- Grouping and hiding cables and wires to prevent falls.
- Transferring all their essentials to the lower drawers and cupboards to keep everything within reach.
- Installing smoke detectors.
- Installing handrails in the shower and toilet for support and to avoid slippage.
For an elderly person to accept help, they first must admit that they cannot care/provide for themselves, which can be a blow to their pride. When met with a lack of respect for their thoughts and decisions, seniors are much less likely to accept help as it highlights an uncomfortable, even painful, fact. When approaching the topic of aged care, make sure you speak gently and listen intently. Explain the pros and cons, hear out their arguments, and ask as many questions as you can to get to their core motivations and emotions. If they refuse your help, don’t force it upon them. Keep offering support where you can, as well as a safe and loving space. That way, if they come around, they will feel safe enough to ask for help.