As we move forwards through life, the natural cycle ultimately takes us full circle and we typically find ourselves becoming more responsible for elderly relatives and loved ones as they begin to require additional help in day to day activities. There is plenty of help available to support both your loved ones and you as a care giver, regardless of whether you look for external services to help out or you decide to provide home care yourself. In this article we take a look at a few of the ways you can support your loved ones as they get a bit older and might need to lean on you a little more for loving and practical support.
Make a thorough assessment of needs
When it comes to taking care of elderly loved ones the first step is critically important; you must take time to assess their needs and identify the type of support that will best meet their needs. Initially you should observe them during simple, every day activities such as getting dressed, preparing food, personal hygiene and moving about their home safely. Some old people retain strength and mobility better than others but may need help or support with remembering where things are or how to perform simple tasks. Others may not need much help with mental processes but their body may not be as willing to play ball as it once was and need help to safely perform daily tasks. Assess their needs, talk to them openly and work together with professional caregivers to identify their needs, what you can do to help yourself, what might need professional support and how much of each type of support is required.
Find the right balance
It’s very important to keep your loved ones involved in the processes and choices being made about their lives; it’s not uncommon to find resistance to help and finding a balance between assistance and independence is important for their sense of wellbeing. If you are able to communicate openly and honestly about difficult subjects such as physical assistance, perhaps financial challenges requiring you to consider power of attorney or admitting healthcare professionals regularly into their space it will be easier to navigate and reduce their stress and concerns.
Consider safety around the home
Once you’ve made your initial assessment of their requirements around the home it’s a good idea to seek input from professionals to explore any safety upgrades that may need to be made to their living space. Regardless of whether you are helping to care for them in their home or an external caregiver is visiting them regularly, there still may be requirements for additional support or modifications around the home to maintain a safe environment for them. For example, do they need grab-rails in key areas of the home such as on the doorstep, on stairs or in the bathroom (especially getting in and out of the bath or the shower)? Is there sufficient lighting in place? Are commonly used surfaces non-slip? Do they need an elevated toilet seat or a sit-down shower?
With honest, open communication, a realistic assessment of needs and access to help and support you can help to ensure that your loved ones are safe and comfortable as they get older.