Right now statistics have it that more than 30% of the younger generation have aging parents or relatives who want to spend the rest of their lives at and cared for in their own homes and by their loved ones.
Caring for elderly parents is an enormous job and should not be undertaken unprepared.
To help these helpers to stand on the solid ground running, few tips for caring for elderly parents are provided here, starting with due diligence on each aspect of the job.
Though not discussed in this post, at-home care for a parent may involve rearranging things in the house like remodeling, bringing in care equipment and supplies, etc.
Due diligence is the careful homework any reasonable person would do to make sure that whatever is being done is done right the first time.
All these mean is that a careful examination or scrutiny of all aspects of caring for elderly parents must be done, in order to get things running smoothly.
Caring for elderly parents can be broadly defined as the whole or part of the whole care or help given to an elderly person, an aging parent, or a grandparent, generally due to old age.
It is necessary to emphasize that this blog is not discussing other types of caregiving like caring for a very sick or disabled child, spouse, or relative.
Caring for elderly parents encompasses
And because caregiving job has a broad spectrum of parts, descriptions of a few tips for caring for elderly parents is possible in this blog.
The first and foremost aspect of caring for elderly parents is understanding the health conditions of the elderly person.
This is true because many other aspects ride on it as will be shown below.
Your parent may not have any of the physical signs of old age. He is healthy. The consequence of that is the parent may not need too much help. The caregiver should be aware of this.
He may only need help with running errands; keeping the house clean; taking to or picking up a grandchild from school.
It may include cleaning, repairing the house, and maintaining the surroundings.
She or he may like to continue life as before and possibly, ignoring the dictates of old age. The caregiver should be particularly aware of this.
On the other hand, a (very) sick parent may additionally require help with: transportation; getting in or out of bed; bathing, dressing, toilet, feeding walking, exercising; taking blood pressure and diabetic sugar reading; scheduling doctor’s appointments; and making sure drugs are dispensed according to the doctor’s recommendations.
The caregiver may also be involved in making some vital decisions like finances, when to terminate or end life, etc.
Physical and Mental toll on the caregiver
In this job, the caregiver must know how much he can take without breaking down, and how many areas of the job will he require help in?
Finding a suitable type of help needed may require time and creative thinking which may discourage the caregiver from finding out.
But the worth of the exercise will be apparent when the workload is decreased, the stress level reduced, and the caregiver can take the normal breaks.
Another area to check out is making sure you have not been discouraging your siblings and others from helping by giving the impression you don’t need help. By alerting or involving these people, you can decrease the financial pressure and other necessities you are shouldering alone.
Another source of headache to be aware of comes from the attitude of, generally, healthy elderly parents. The attitude of, “Don’t tell me what to do, I have been doing this all my life”.
Imagine a diabetic elderly person, predisposed to diabetic comma or cataracts, driving a car, or on top of a roof effecting repairs? What a disaster!
These are some of the behaviors of an elderly senior that can cause sleepless nights to the son, daughter, or relative helping out.
Another source of discontentment a caregiver, son, or daughter should be aware of is the management of role reversal.
Remember your patient was once your father or mother who nursed and raised you to be what you are currently.
It will be a challenging situation if you forget the former relationships you had with your aging parent; individual pride, and ego of your parent.
Remember the blood pressure of an elderly person could go up due to maltreatment or disrespect from his son or daughter.
My friend, instead of forcefully taking away the aging father’s car keys to discourage him from driving his car instead, secretly disconnected the car battery.
The father complained that his car needed repairs and requested rides from his son.
Because of the enormity of the burden of caring for elderly parents, it would be best for families to plan together how to take care of their aging parents?
When this is the case, all the children and relatives of the elderly parents meet and decide who plays what role in the caring of the parent.
This will include assigning who makes some vital decisions like financial and end of life. Some times it happens this way in some families but in many cases, it does not.
Just imagine being called and told by your aging parent that all was not well at home? Many will rush home to assess what was going on. But only to discover that the parent she left a while ago needed help and could not be left alone.
You want to take off from work for one week to take care of things. But before you know it, one week turns into a month, three months.
And finally, you decide to stay and become a full-time caretaker. since you could not trust any other person to give your aging parent the type of care you envisioned for the woman/father that gave you life.
Depending on the health conditions of the elderly, as stated earlier, taking care of him/her can be very involving, requiring performing due diligence in all the aspects of the caring.
A Sample Due Diligence
The following is a sample of what is involved in Fall Prevention or making the home safe and accessible for an elderly parent schedule.
You will have a similar list when carrying out due diligence on other areas of caretaking like activities to keep your patient active or engaged.
Also in other areas like meal schedule, securing government assistance or benefits, dealing with insurance benefits, personal hygiene schedule, etc.
It is no wonder that elderly care may require a steady mind, foresight, knowing when to look for assistance for yourself to avoid breaking down.
(the following are recommendations from a Fall Prevention due diligence. Read more here)
- Use of cane, walker, wheelchair
- wear fall monitoring device all the time
- limit or avoid distractions
- regular eye exam including installing proper lighting in the house and night lights
- In the house, remove all obstructions from the floor, including securing carpets or rugs to the floor.
- install portable lifts to the staircases if getting to the upper floors is difficult
- Floors, carpets, stairways, should be slip-resistant
- do not allow spills of any type on the floors
- chairs and seats should be for low kinds that make getting on or off them easy
- bathroom hangers should be low enough to reach without difficulty
- toilets, bathtubs should be low and not slippery
- bathroom floor mats must be provided
- monitor side effects of drugs particularly new prescriptions,
In the elderly care industry, due diligence is critical.
As stated earlier the consequences of a mistake or miscalculation could be deadly or result in the caregiver burning out quickly.
Human life is irreplaceable.
Taking care of the elderly can be complicated and comes in many pieces.
It begins with accessing and understanding the health conditions of the elderly person. And continues to the caregiver understanding how much he or she can handle, and areas he will need help in, to avoid burning out quickly.
It continues to understand how to avoid making costly or deadly mistakes in drug administration.
This includes how to avoid scheduling errors or missing doctor’s appointments.
Each aspect of this job needs to be understood and prepared for ahead of commencement.
To get an elderly parent (particularly the healthy and ‘stubborn’) to comply with what is needed to be done, the caretaker – son or daughter – must be creative, knowing the consequences of upsetting the aging parent like what happens when forced to do anything he doesn’t want to, disrespected, etc.
In some instances, the caregiver may have to bargain with the parent.
All the care regimens described here are critical, and none should be seen as less important. They are time-consuming and some may need consulting an expert to get it right.
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