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November 10, 2016
Caring For The Elderly: 5 Tips For Family & Friends
If you were put with the choice of growing old in your own home or in a nursing home or hospital, what would you choose? The vast majority of people want to age where they’ve always lived, you want to grow old in your own home, a familiar setting where you feel safe and comfortable.
As your parents get older and might need more help around the house, there may come a time when you need to talk to them about care going forward. Often many people don’t know that their parents need care until they’ve been around them for an extended period of time, usually around the holidays. You might notice that they’ve become more forgetful, they may be wearing the same clothes each day or the house is unusually untidy.
There are many aspects of caring for the elderly that are stressful for parents and for the children who look after them. As a company that provides outstanding care for people in a home setting, as well as in nursing homes and hospitals, we wanted to share our 5 tips for family members and friends to consider when caring for the elderly.
- Start Talking
Nothing can get done unless you start talking with the person you will be caring for. It’s not an easy subject to bring up, but try to bring it up early, while your parents are still healthy. It may not be easy for them to accept that they may need care, but as long as you explain that it’s in their best interest and that you just want to make sure that they have everything they would need as they move into their later years. A good first step might be to ask them for a list of any medications that they may be on and for their GP’s contact information.
Ask your loved one about their preferences if something was to happen.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with a condition, ask their doctor to give you an overview, it might give you some perspective on what’s to come and knowing the likely progress of the condition means you may be able to plan ahead.
- Evaluate the situation
This is where you need to be as realistic as possible. Can you take care of someone at home? You’ll need to know how independent your loved one is or can be. Can they be left alone? We say be realistic because you may not be in a position to care for them 24/7, if that is what’s required. Be realistic about your own ability to help out, if there mobility is deteriorating and hoisting is going to be involved for them getting in and out of bed, then you may need to look into the possibility of hiring home care.
Try to take advantage of any community services that may be available
Caring for an elderly parent is much easier when you have help. If you have siblings, make sure you share a portion of the responsibility. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Determine how much care your loved one may need and start making plans to provide this. Again, consulting with their GP may give you more of an idea of how much care will be needed.
- Make a Financial Plan
Ask your parents if they have any financial plans for when they do get to a stage where they cannot care for themselves. They may already have a fund set up specifically for home care. You’ll need to come to an agreement with your loved one and siblings about who pays for what.
The financial side of home care can be quite a burden on families, but there may be government grants available to you and in a lot of cases tax relief can be claimed by the bill payer.
- Keep Healthy
You need to keep yourself healthy, caring for a loved one and seeing their health deteriorate can be a hugely stressful thing. Often, as a care giver, you can put all of your time into caring for your loved one and can forget to take care of yourself. Who takes care of the carer?
Make sure to get enough rest, eat a healthy and balanced diet and be sure to get some exercise. Getting enough of the right exercise can help keep stress levels down and keep your body and mind healthy.
If you don’t take care of yourself you can burn out fast and you’ll start seeing your own health deteriorate.
- Show thoughtfulness, compassion and respect
You need to remember that this situation isn’t going to be easy for your loved one either, they may be seeing their bodies or minds deteriorate and they may not be able to do anything about it, which can be extremely frustrating for them.
While some older people can suffer from mental frailties such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia, they shouldn’t be spoken to like they are children. There needs to be understanding between you, you’re not there to boss them around, but you are looking out for their best interests.
When it comes to caring for the elderly, not everyone will be in the same situation. Everyone’s circumstances are different. Some people could be dealing with palliative care or some people could be trying to care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Whatever it is, with time you will find what works best for you and your loved one. The thing that we would ask you to remember is, whether they are one of your parents, aunt, uncle or any other family member or friend, they may have been thrusted into this situation just like you have. This could be a situation that you both find stressful at times, but it is something that you will both need to work at to ensure that it does actually work.
Call us on 01 8338000 to discuss the different types of care we can provide. Communicare has extensive experience in caring for the young and old in all sorts of situations, whether it’s just some light house work, meal preparation or personal care, we can assist you with whatever care requirements you may have.