How to Care for an Aging Loved One

How to Care for an Aging Loved One

Your family is important to you, whether it is distant or close. The ageing of a close relative can have repercussions for everyone around them. When faced with an ageing relative, many people choose to take care of their relative themselves. There are numerous options and resources available for providing care for an elderly relative. It is critical to make a decision that meets both your and your loved one’s needs.

Method 1 Assessing the Situation

1. Keep an eye out for any behavioural changes. You may notice some normal changes as your loved one ages, such as taking longer to complete some tasks or being forgetful. Some changes, however, may jeopardise your relative’s safety. If you notice any of the following issues, it could be a sign of dementia, depression, or other medical issues, and your loved one may require assistance:

Unopened or unpaid mail and bills

Poor personal hygiene

Odors (e.g. spoiled food, dirty home, piled up trash, etc.) in their home

Signs of safety risks (e.g. burned pots, smoke stains)

Signs that medications are not being taken or not taken properly

Missed appointments

Getting lost in places they know well

Noticeable change in weight (gain or loss)

Difficulty walking, standing up, or sitting down

Extreme thirst

Excessive tiredness

Isolation and spending more time alone

Burns or injury marks

Any uncharacteristic behavior

2. Inquire about any unusual behaviour you notice. Your loved one may confide in you about their concerns or problems. If the issues are not brought to your attention, you can begin the conversation by asking some questions. When you ask the question, pay attention to the response of your loved one. Inquire about a possible solution to the problem from your loved one. You will not jeopardise your loved one’s independence by involving them in decision-making.

If you notice the laundry basket is full, you can say, “You appear to be a little behind on your laundry? Do you require assistance?”

To get to the bottom of a problem, ask questions. Don’t assume you know what’s causing the behaviour.

Do not try to fix the problem right away unless it poses an immediate threat to your loved one’s safety. First, try to strike up a few conversations.

3. Talk to your friends and family members. If you notice some changes, your family members are likely to notice them as well. Speaking with others can also provide a variety of perspectives and solutions.

This is especially true if you do not see your loved one on a regular basis or live in a different city.

It is beneficial to speak with both people who know your family member and those who do not. Because they have no emotional ties to your loved one, an outsider can provide an objective opinion.

4. Speak with an expert. Even after speaking with your loved one, family, and friends, you may still require assistance in making some decisions. Consult with your primary care physician, gerontologist, or senior care specialist. They can provide professional advice and assistance in developing solutions. Remember that you are not alone in making these decisions.

Prepare to answer questions about your loved one’s cognitive functioning (for example, memory and decision-making abilities) and Activities of Daily Living/ADLs (e.g. eating, using the bathroom, getting dressed, bathing, etc.)

Remember that you are not alone in making these decisions. Before you act, seek feedback and support from a variety of sources.

Method 2 Making A Plan

1. Determine which areas require assistance. Your loved one may be fine in one area but struggle in another. Make a list of the specific areas that need to be addressed. The majority of the requirements will fall into five major categories.

Housekeeping- laundry, shopping (e.g. groceries, toiletries, household items), yard work and cleaning

Meal preparation

Healthcare

Activities of Daily Living

Social needs – transportation and interaction with other people

2. Determine who can offer assistance in each area. After you’ve made a list of the areas that require attention, determine who will be in charge of each one. Will it be you, a friend, a family member, a home health aide, or a community organisation? If you rely on a friend or family member, make sure you get a specific commitment from the person as well as the services they have agreed to assist with.

Support will most likely come from a variety of sources. For instance, you could come clean the house once a week, while another relative could go grocery shopping and prepare some quick meals.

Call 411 and mention the specific business you’re looking for to find local community resources in your area. You can also request referrals to services in your area from their primary care physician.

Depending on the circumstances, the elderly may be eligible for home services such as physical therapy or nursing visits.

3. Organize vital documents. Inquire if your loved one has organised their important documents and medical information. If they haven’t already, encourage them to do so and offer your assistance. Check to see if everything is in order if they have already organised their documents. Documents of importance include:

Health insurance and/or Medicare card

Social Security card

Birth certificate

List of health conditions, medications, and allergies

End-of-life care, will, living will, and power of attorney

Insurance policies (e.g. life insurance, long-term care insurance, etc.)

Financial information (tax documents, financial advisor, accountant, bank information, etc.)

Name and contact information for physicians and pharmacies

4. As needed, make changes to the plan. The needs of your loved one will change over time due to a variety of factors. Your loved one may be experiencing a medical emergency that necessitates immediate medical attention. Your or a loved one’s financial situation may have changed. Changes may occur that affect your availability as well.

You may want to evaluate your strategy on a regular basis (e.g. 3 months, 6 months, etc.). Examine what works and what doesn’t.

Remember to include your family members, caregivers, and loved ones in these assessments.

Make both planned and unplanned visits to your loved one’s home to get a sense of how things are going.

Method 3 Considering Different Housing Options

1. Assist your loved one in remaining in their home. If at all possible, your loved one will want to remain in their home. Staying at home allows them to maintain their independence while also providing them with a sense of familiarity. It will also make ageing more pleasant. Home care services, meal and transportation services, respite care, and adult day cares are all options that can help your loved one stay at home.

Adult day care centres work in the same way that child care centres do. Your loved one would visit the centre several times per week and would have access to a variety of planned activities. This is also a great way for your loved one to meet new people and maintain an active social life.

Respite care is short-term assistance for a full-time caregiver. A worker arrives to provide a break for the caregiver. Respite care can last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.

2. Investigate retirement communities. Assisted living communities, adult congregate communities, rental retirement communities, subsidised housing, and continuing care communities are all options for retirement communities. Communities can accommodate both self-sufficient seniors and those who require some assistance. The type of community you select will be determined by the needs of your loved one as well as your financial situation.

Adult congregate care and assisted living facilities are for more self-sufficient seniors.

When researching a community, be sure to consider the cost, services provided, and residency requirements.

3. Consider a nursing home. If your loved one is unable to live on their own and no family member is available to care for them, a nursing home is the best option. Nursing homes can be classified as either skilled nursing or intermediate care facilities. A skilled nursing facility provides round-the-clock care, whereas intermediate facilities provide similar services but not 24 hours a day.

The majority of nursing homes will provide both levels of care.

Nursing home care is not covered by Medicare, but Medicaid may be an option if your loved one meets the requirements. To cover costs, long-term care insurance must be purchased privately.

4. Bring a loved one into your home. If you have the time and resources, you might consider relocating your loved one into your home. Everyone in your home will be affected by your decision to become a caregiver, so make sure to discuss it with them. Will you continue to work or will you leave your job to care for your parents full-time?

Caregivers face a great deal of stress and difficulty. If you take on this role, don’t forget about yourself. It is critical that you eat well, get enough rest, and take breaks from your responsibilities.

Consider utilising other resources to assist in lightening your load. You could take your loved one to adult day care a few times per week, or you could use respite care when you need a break.

Method 4 Communicating with Your Loved One

1. Feel free to express yourself. It can be difficult to discuss such topics. It is critical that you express your emotions openly. Inform your loved one that you want to support them and assist them with any problems they are experiencing.

Be realistic about how much time and energy you can devote, as well as your other responsibilities.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty communicating with a loved one, consider speaking with a counsellor to help you work through your emotions.

2. Respect the wishes of your loved one. Your loved one has most likely been living alone and wishes to maintain control. It is critical that you respect your loved one’s wishes, even if you disagree with them. Be gentle with your loved one and consider how you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes.

Make minor adjustments to make it easier for your loved one to adjust.

Try not to get caught up in the minor details and instead concentrate on the big picture.

If your loved one’s desires are unrealistic or impractical, you may need to make some decisions without them. For example, if your loved one insists on driving despite having been in multiple car accidents, you may need to take away their keys until you can make other transportation arrangements.

3. Care should be described using positive language. If your care plan includes community resources and home health care providers, frame them positively so your loved one is more receptive. Make a “friend” of your home health care provider. If you are sending a loved one to an adult day care centre, inform them that they will be volunteering or assisting at the centre. The centre could also be referred to as a club or social organisation.

Remind your loved one that accepting assistance now will allow them to maintain their independence for as long as possible.

4. Be open and honest. While it is important to be sensitive to the feelings of your loved one, avoid sugarcoating the situation. Be truthful and include any negative information. Inform your loved one if it will be difficult for them to stay in their home or perform daily activities without assistance.

Reassure your loved one that they are not alone in experiencing these changes, and that you are speaking from a place of genuine care and concern.

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