Tips on How to Care for an Older Adult

When your elderly loved ones’ physical or mental health starts to deteriorate, it is a distressing time for all concerned, and you know that you need to address the safety issues that arise during this transitional time. You have benefitted from their love and care over the years, and now it is time for you to reciprocate. Raising concerns about their welfare with them can be a difficult conversation to have, but it is necessary now that you are responsible for their wellbeing. Here are some tips to help you care for an older adult.  

Online Solution

  • Groceries

It is vital that older adults keep eating nutrient-rich food to maintain their health. However, it can become increasingly difficult for them to get to the shops, especially if their driving skills have waned over the years. You can order grocery shopping over the internet and arrange for delivery at a time that is convenient for you. You can also find companies that can unpack it if there is no one else to help. The standards of readymade meals have dramatically improved over the past few years, and it will ensure that they can have their meals without too much preparation.

  • Prescriptions

It is important that the medicines that are prescribed for your loved one are taken as instructed by the doctor, and missed doses mean that the success of the treatment is compromised. The elderly can have trouble managing their medication as getting to the medical centre can be a challenge. Take advantage of online NHS contracted pharmacies that will deliver medication straight to the patient, and send you reminders for when a new order is needed.

  • Communication

Loneliness and social isolation is a very real threat to older adults’ mental and physical health. The changes to their physical and mental capacity can challenge their sense of self and happiness. With advancing age people experience a reduction in the connections with their friendship network and support system that has carried them over the years, and they are unable to participate in activities that they once enjoyed. Depression is common amongst the elderly, and you must observe your loved one for symptoms. If you can, set up a device that can be used for them to access the internet; they may resist at first, but they will be able to access films, audio books and games that will exercise their cognitive skills. Skype is a wonderful app for enabling face-to-face communication and connection between people, particularly with those from younger generations.

  • Safety

The elderly can be vulnerable in their own homes, and risk comes from falls and from outside the home in the form of unscrupulous callers to their homes. With the permission of your elderly relative, you can install movement or doorbell activated cameras that can broadcast to your smartphone or device. You will be able to check that they are safe without the physical need for you to visit. If you have concerns about the people who have access to your loved one, this is a non-invasive way to observe interactions and provides you with the ability to respond immediately if you need to.

Health Solution

As a caregiver, you need to be up-to-date with the medical needs of your charge. If you are able to, attend medical appointments with them so that you know exactly what they need to do to maintain their health and extend the time that they can remain at home. You do not want to be in the position of finding out too late about something that could have been treated but wasn’t. For example, an elderly person may have a problem with cataracts, but they may not realise that cataract removal surgery has substantially progressed in recent years and is pain-free and completed within a couple of hours. Fear of the unknown limits the options that older adults think that they have.

Elderly people need to keep active in order to extend their good health, and a low-intensity exercise regime can alleviate the onset of immobility. Community centres often have classes that are designed for older adults; research ones that are available in your local area and encourage your loved one to attend. Pilates and yoga are very popular and will help them to keep mobile, but they will also be a positive influence regarding morale and wellness. There are a variety of other classes available to seniors: computer, photography, writing skills and more. Your loved one will benefit immeasurably from being in a social environment that challenges them and allows them to learn. By nourishing their mental health, some of their physical symptoms associated with old age will be reduced, as they develop a new zest for life. Mental wellbeing plays a protective role in health maintenance.

It is important that you monitor any changes in their health and remain sensitive to any fluctuations. By being proactive, you will be able to provide the extra support that they need, and be ready to face the challenges as they occur.

Look After You

Being the principal carer for an older person is an emotionally complex situation, and you must ensure that you look after yourself too. The relationship dynamic changes dramatically; after all, this person has more than likely been a person of authority in your life, and now you have the authority. Taking care of an elderly person is a marathon, and certainly not a sprint, and you need to make sure that you are prepared: eat well and sleep well!

It’s possible that neither of you have been in this situation before, and you are entering unchartered waters; therefore, you need to remember that all types of emotions will come to the surface from both of you. There will be occasions when one of you feels angry, hurt and upset. Try and always give the older adult options so that they feel that they still have autonomy as they will not want to be given orders; ask them for advice, so that they still feel valued. You will know by now how their emotions work, but be prepared for them to be altered by changes to their cognitive function.

The changes in family dynamics can have a huge impact on other family relationships too. There will always be a sibling who does more, and one who does next to nothing to contribute to the care of an ageing relative. Try not to get involved in squabbles. Do what you can do, not only for your parent, but for your own sense of justice. 

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