Here at iCare Consulting / PickYourPain.org we are proud to share articles from other health and caregiving related sites that help caregivers and their caree’s get through their day. The following article was sent in from Jacqueline Hatch who is the Content Manager at Seniorly.com. I really appreciate the opportunity to share this post and hope to be able to do so again in the future.
Caring for an Aging Loved One
By Jacqueline Hatch
Caring for an aging loved one is an honor, but it also comes with a variety of challenges that can lead to quick health decline if not handled properly. It’s important to be aware of your loved one’s physical, mental, and emotional states when you take on the role of family caregiver, and always be flexible since care needs can change at a moment’s notice.
When my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and my grandfather was undergoing a series of knee surgeries to help him walk again, I found myself unexpectedly in the role of family caregiver. I found that creativity and a positive outlook helped me balance all of my new responsibilities, but it was also important for me to be realistic about the needs of my aging relatives. In this article, I cover some of the top caregiving challenges and offer solutions that may help your family going through a similar caregiving situation.
#1 In-Home Safety Concerns
Bathroom Safety – Bathrooms can be some of the most dangerous places in the home for aging loved ones. Tiles and other hard surfaces get slippery when wet, which can lead to injury-causing falls and even hospitalizations. Some of the most important home modifications you can make as a family caregiver start in the bathroom. Grab bars, non-slip shower mats, and versatile shower chairs can help aging loved ones stay safe and give family caregivers peace of mind, knowing that their loved ones will be okay. Search online for different products and reviews and compare your options to make the best choice for your family. Be sure to ask your loved ones for their input before purchasing any assisstive equipment.
Fall Hazards – Keep in mind that fall hazards are not limited to the bathroom. Throughout the home, loose rugs, difficult staircases, and visible electrical cords can also be major tripping hazards for older adults. Be sure to assess the home regularly for these troublesome area so that you can make the necessary home modifications to keep your loved ones safe. For example, you may want to consider hiring a contractor to install a stair lift in your loved one’s home, so that he or she can get up and down the stairs easily and avoid the risk of injury from a fall. Furthermore, if your loved one is prone to falling, you may also want to invest in a device like LifeAlert which can help your aging loved one get emergency help in case no one is around when they fall.
#2 Isolation vs. Socialization
When elders are living at home alone, trying to maintain independence, it can also be difficult for them to remain as socially active as they may have been when they were younger. This can quickly lead to isolation, depression, and even anxiety. Be proactive about your loved one’s social life, and help him or her sign up for activities and events at local senior centers, volunteer organizations, libraries, or retirement communities.
There are also many online resources that can help your aging loved one stay socially connected, including Skype and Zoom, and social media websites such as Facebook and Pinterest. If your loved one is looking for a new friend, companion, or romantic interest as they age, you may also want to set them up on Stitch.net, a site that provides a safe space for older adults to connect with one another. Maintaining a vibrant social life will help your loved one remain happy and healthy even as they age independently at home.
#3 Proper Hygiene
Personal Hygiene – Personal hygiene can start to fall to the wayside as it becomes more difficult for your aging loved ones to get around the house. As family caregiver, it is your responsibility to remind them to brush their teeth and take baths or showers on a regular basis. You may also need to assist with laundry so that they have clean towels and clothing to change into after bathing.
Food Hygiene – Food hygiene refers to the maintenance required to stay healthy and prevent illness in the home. As family caregiver, it may be your duty to do the grocery shopping and cooking for your aging loved ones. Try to stock up on healthy non-perishable items for the kitchen cupboard, and buy fresh produce once a week. It is also important to regularly clean the refrigerator and other kitchen surfaces that are used regularly for meal preparation. If you have the time, cooking ahead of time can provide great, hearty meals for your loved ones all week long, which can even take some daily tasks off your plate.