Life expectancy has increased worldwide in the past few decades. Modern medicine and new scientific discoveries have found solutions to previously thought incurable diseases and paved the way for bigger and better therapeutics.
Although this prevalence of aging societies allows individuals to live longer, it also makes them susceptible to acquiring health concerns commonly associated with old age. Their ill health can quickly burden the healthcare system, policymakers, and federal governments, who must provide them with the appropriate compensation. Most importantly, however, it impacts family members like you, who must take care of them and help them transition into this new phase of life.
Caring for the elderly might be different for different people. For some, it might be grandparents, while for others, it may be parents, old relatives, neighbors, or even friends. Since you generally grow up around these loved ones, watching them grow old and become dependent on others can be difficult.
And so, to help you, here are six easy ways to care for your aging loved ones without putting them or yourself through too much trouble.
1. Check if they’re getting the appropriate care
It’s a common practice to get your elderly relatives checked in at a nursing home and leave the rest of the care in the hands of these professionals. However, this isn’t always advisable.
As qualified as healthcare providers in these facilities may be, you must check if your loved ones are receiving the appropriate care. Since nursing facilities are often overstaffed and overworked, any failure on the caregiver’s part can severely impact your dear one’s health.
Fortunately, you can seek help from an ombudsman to mitigate this problem. An ombudsman investigates and files complaints against high-ranking officials or influential organizations. They can demand information, interview people, and order legal investigations if necessary.
If you have more questions like, what is an ombudsman? What role do they play in taking care of your loved one? Or how can you opt for their services; search online for local service providers for all the details.
2. Allow them to make decisions
As you grow older, you start losing freedom over certain things and must rely on others for simple routine tasks. This transition from a life of independence can take a heavy toll on the elderly population. Therefore, as their caretaker, you must be extra careful about how you act or talk to them and offer your help without making them feel invalid. Be considerate of their feelings and try to include them in as much decision-making as possible. For example, provide them with treatment options and let them pick the appropriate regiment themselves.
Try not to put too many restrictions on them, or their mental health will quickly start worsening. Instead, let them have some leeway now and then while remaining cautious and safe.
3. Encourage social inclusion
Isolation and loneliness are the leading causes of emotional distress and mental health concerns among the aged population. The easiest and most effective solution to this problem is encouraging your loved ones to engage in social gatherings as often as possible. Create opportunities for social inclusion by inviting their friends and neighbors or hosting family dinners where everyone can get together and interact with one another. A simple conversation or hangout can significantly affect their emotional health and distract them from whatever distressing feelings may be rising.
Social interactions don’t just help your loved ones feel better but can also impact how they respond to treatment. Studies show that patients with good mental health are more likely to recover quicker and live healthier lives than those with chronic depression or anxiety.
4. Provide them with safe transportation options
For most elderly individuals, mobility becomes a significant concern with age. This lack of movement limits them to one place, keeping them from traveling wherever they want. Fortunately, several agencies and organizations offer transportation services for elderly and senior citizens who can’t drive themselves. Their vehicles’ unique designs are spacious, allowing wheelchairs and other assistive devices to accommodate easily. Their trained staff can also assist your loved ones with whatever errand they want to run before returning them home safely.
You can leave their contact information with your elderly relative, giving them the independence to hail a ride whenever they feel like making a trip. However, you must remember that these facilities are typically for non-emergency purposes. If medical assistance is required, it’s wiser to call an ambulance or paramedics.
5. Understand their financial limits
Caring for an aged loved one can be financially draining, and if not done smartly, it can spell disaster.
Medical bills like prescriptions, diagnostic testing, routine checkups, and hospital stays can quickly surmount up to a substantial amount. Other expenses like multivitamins, nutrient-rich food, or paying salaries to hired help can also total up to a significant value. Therefore, you must know what financial limits you’re working with, what insurance options you have, and if there are any resources you can use.
With your roles reversed now, you’re the caretaker of your parents or elderly relatives and will have to make some serious decisions. Often older adults seem reluctant to discuss their financial positions with their children or loved ones and may hem and haw about where they stand. But to make the right judgments, you must fully grasp how much they have in savings before making any plans.
6. Enlist help when needed
While no one can beat your love for your parents or other relatives, you must understand your limits. Putting too many responsibilities on your shoulders can lead to exhaustion, making it impossible for you to take care of yourself, let alone your elderly loved ones. Therefore, you should recognize when things get out of hand and enlist help when necessary. For example, if you have another engagement on the same day as your parents’ appointment, you can ask a friend to take them instead. Or, you can hire companies that prepare meals for the sick and elderly while taking care of their diet and nutrition requirements.
Recruiting help or assistance in any of these situations doesn’t diminish your love for your aging loved ones. On the contrary, it shows how you want to ensure they receive the best care, even when you can’t provide it yourself.
Deciding to care for an aging loved one seems like an obvious choice. It’s normal to feel like this is the least you could do after years of sacrifices and caregiving on their part. However, as apparent as this decision may feel, there are certain practicalities you can’t overlook. Age-related concerns are not easy to handle, and caring for someone can quickly get exhausting. Therefore, you must arm yourself with crucial tips and strategies like the ones above to ensure you provide the best care for your loved one.