Caring for the Elderly in Your Life
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 25% of all American adults 18 and up are providing care or assistance to a family member or friend with a long-term illness or disability, primarily the elderly. And this is no easy feat since caring for an elderly person entails providing companionship, assisting with housework, supplying physical care, and even providing medical assistance in some cases. With that said, we have a few tips to offer on the matter:
Create Social Opportunities
The likelihood of social isolation and loneliness increases as people age. This isolation is linked to a number of physical and mental health risks such as hypertension, heart disease, obesity, immunosuppression, anxiety, depression, dementia, and even death.
Allow the elderly in your life to continue to play an active role in your family, social circle, or community. You can create these opportunities in everyday life. Even just taking leisurely walks around the neighborhood is one way to do this. Or if you’re caring for an elderly person with mobility issues, you may opt for an indoor activity, like a bingo night or family dinner.
Taking care of another person means that you have to continue learning about their needs and how to address them. For one, you may need to help them move around the house. This would require you to learn how to lift and move them safely, observing proper body mechanics so that you’re also protected as you perform these lifts.
Some elderly people also develop challenging behaviors as they age. They may become verbally aggressive or extremely oppositional, so you need to learn how to properly manage and prevent this. Whichever the case may be with the elderly you care for, it’s important that you keep learning and that you create safety guidelines, which you can then regularly update as you gain more knowledge and experience.
Get Professional Help
Being a caregiver for an elderly loved one doesn’t mean that you put the rest of your life on hold. Even if you’re bent on dedicating all your time and effort into caring for them, there will be times when you need professional help— especially with the medical aspect of care.
It’s important to integrate your care with that of a professional’s since they can offer expert advice. In fact, geriatric care has become one of the most important nursing careers, as gerontology nurses can help manage age-specific health issues like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, as well as other health troubles common in seniors like osteoporosis and chronic diseases. They’re also adept at providing preventive care which can help mitigate life-threatening falls in seniors. They are trained to be empathetic, patient, and communicative, making them ideal partners that you can work with to assess and create home care plans.
Create a Safe Environment
Even if an elderly person requires care in some daily activities, it’s important that they still maintain independence and autonomy as much as they can. This improves their quality of life and strengthens their sense of dignity.
Make sure that their home environment helps cultivate their ability to do daily living tasks, including bathing, eating, and mobility within the premises. Also, ensure that there’s minimal risk of injury or fall, and most importantly, make sure that they feel comfortable and secure within their own home.
No matter how challenging it can get, caring for the elderly in your life is a very rewarding experience. It takes dedication and genuine concern, and that’s something to be proud of.
Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
Article written by Reese Jones