Tips for Taking Care of an Elderly Relative
When it comes to caring for an elderly relative, you can easily feel overwhelmed by all of the choices and decisions you have to make. What is the best course of action? Should they age in place or go to an assisted living facility? While the answer to these questions will vary depending on many different factors, here are some basic tips to help make navigating elder care a little bit easier.
Understand Their Level of Care
Not all seniors will need the same level of care. Some may need skilled nursing services while others will do fine with only minimal assistance. However, it’s important to have their needs professionally assessed to ensure that they can have access to the care that they need. Some personal care services will have various options starting from minimal visits every week to more frequent at-home care. Caregivers like this can help with everything from medication reminders to meal prep and hygiene aid. Although there are some instances where at-home care may not be appropriate such as medical conditions that need constant monitoring or memory care needs.
Before making any decisions and going ahead with a plan, make sure to have the exact level of care assessed to ensure that you know best how to proceed with your loved one’s care.
Understand Your Own Limits
When it comes to providing stay at home elder care firsthand for your loved one, it’s important to know your own limits to prevent becoming overwhelmed. Oftentimes family members find themselves overburdened by the levels of care they need to provide and trying to handle it all yourself can be nearly impossible. Not only can it be time-consuming, but it can be emotionally taxing. Once you know how much care your loved one needs, seriously consider if it is something that you can realistically handle. In some instances, family members may opt to care for a loved one, but avail themselves with respite care providers when they need to take a break. This is an option to keep in mind, especially if you feel their care isn’t too taxing overall.
That being said, it’s important to also know when it may be time to consider other options. Assistance living for seniors is an option that can be overall beneficial and rewarding for everyone involved. It is a good option for seniors that may still want some level of independence, but still need monitoring and help to get through daily tasks.
Getting Help When You Need It
If you’re caring for your loved one at home, it’s important to know the resources available to you so that you can get assistance and help when you need it. Some ideas can include enrolling your loved one in an adult day program where they can socialize with others while you take care of any other tasks or simply rest. In-home caregivers can and respite services can also be useful for allowing you to take a break when you start to feel overwhelmed. Meal delivery services can also be beneficial as they can help cut down on the number of tasks you need to do every day. Similarly, a housekeeping service can help with this as well. You can also ask another family member or close friend to help with these tasks to help ease the amount of work you need to do on your own.
Stay at home elder care providers often suffer from burnout due to constantly having to care for the needs of their relatives, and because of this, their own wellbeing can suffer. To prevent this, don’t hesitate to seek out help when you need it so that you can continue to be well enough to give your all.
Share the Work Load
Going hand in hand with the above, you should always try to share the responsibility with other family members when possible. Don’t try to take on everything yourself, and instead enlist the help of other relatives to help provide care when they can. By diving up the workload you can help ensure that your loved one gets the care they deserve without you needing to carry the burden alone. For instance, if your loved one needs transport to and from cataract surgery, it’s worth having a few other family members lined up in case something happens and you can’t take them. Sharing these responsibilities will help ensure everything can get taken care of.
Reduce Financial Pressure
Stay at home elder care for an aging loved one can also put stress on finances which can lead to increased stress for you as a caregiver. Try to reduce costs when possible and work with other family members so that you won’t have to be the only one trying to manage the whole of care costs. If your loved one is entitled to disability, it may be worth speaking with a disability claims attorney to see if they’re entitled to compensation that could help with costs.
Why Home Care Is Worth Considering
Stay at home elder care is a great option for many elderly loved ones, and aging in place can have many benefits. It can help provide a sense of comfort to seniors and for those struggling with minor memory problems, it can also help due to the familiarity. Aging in place can also allow elders to be able to stay close to friends which can be beneficial towards keeping them happy and engaged.
Stay at home elder care is a good option for those who have minimal care needs that may not warrant assisted living, but still need help with day-to-day tasks. It is also beneficial for families who want to keep elders close, as opposed to potentially further away in a care facility. In care facilities, seniors will also have the disadvantage of needing to learn a completely new environment while being surrounded by people they don’t know. This can cause them further distress that can potentially exacerbate medical issues.
If your loved one is found to be a good candidate for stay at home care, it’s worth considering taking that route. At home elder care, when thought out can be highly beneficial to everyone involved.
When Should You Consider Other Options?
For elders that have a higher level of needed care, assisted living facilities are worth keeping in mind. While keeping loved ones at home is always preferable, assisted living facilities can offer a lot of help that wouldn’t be available elsewhere as easily. For instance, for elders struggling with diabetes, nursing staff would be able to apply the necessary diabetic foot care and medication as needed. They will also know the signs of a medical emergency much more readily than an untrained family member.
Similarly, at these facilities specific treatments may be available that wouldn’t be at home. Hearing loss treatment and diabetic retinopathy treatment may be more accessible via the physicians at the facility. At home, elders would need to find transportation to and from these treatments. In a facility like this transportation services are also often offered to ensure that elders can get to and from outside appointments should they be needed. Many even offer activities that include taking the residents out for days in the park or other safe gatherings.
While you may not want to consider placing your loved one in a care facility, there are tangible benefits with this option to consider as well.
If your loved one has trouble getting around and doesn’t live where friends can easily visit, they can often end up feeling lonely when no one is around. In an assisted living facility they won’t have to worry about being separated from others, as there will always be other residents around to socialize with. Many places even have specific common areas where residents can gather for this very purpose.
24 Hour Care
Some elders with memory care needs may have problems with wandering, which can be dangerous if they decide to leave home without anyone knowing. However, since care facilities have round-the-clock staffing you won’t have to worry about your loved one wandering away and potentially getting hurt. This also benefits seniors who may have mobility issues which could lead to slips and falls in their own homes. Because the staff is always on hand, they won’t have to worry about trying to move if they feel too unsteady. This can help keep them out of harm’s way while giving you needed peace of mind.
Easier to Detect Problems
Because professional medical staff is always on hand, your loved one will be in a better place for previously undetected problems to be addressed. For instance, if your loved one is suffering from gum disease, it may have been undetected until a nurse takes note of the problem. This means that treatment, sometimes in the form of gum diseases dental bonding, can be done quickly to prevent the problem from getting worse. Additionally, staff will be able to take note of any blood pressure or blood sugar problems that need to be treated with daily medications. Lots of things that could have been easily overlooked at home can be addressed in a care facility.
Delicious Meals Everyday
Most care facilities employ skilled chefs to cook every meal. This means that your loved ones will never have to worry about cooking for themselves and can always enjoy great food. You also won’t have to worry about them missing meals or potentially hurting themselves while trying to cook for themselves. Residents can also socialize with each other during mealtimes which can further boost their socialization.
More Free Time and Less Worry
Placing your loved one in a care facility can also offer you the ability to take more care of yourself without the worry that your elder is being neglected or put in a dangerous situation. You will also have the option to visit them as much as you would like so that you don’t lose contact. You may even be surprised by how much they enjoy their new homes when you do come to visit.
Which Option is Right For Your Loved One?
The option that you choose for your loved one will depend on a couple of factors. The level of care they need, how much care you can realistically provide, and what you and your family feel is best for your loved one. If your loved one is still active and can get around decently well with only the need for light assistance, it may be worthwhile to keep them at home. Similarly, if your assessing nurse feels that more advanced conditions could be suitably managed at home, it’s an option to consider with more frequent in home care. However, care facilities shouldn’t be written off, especially if your loved one is at a level of care that is too much for you to provide on your own or with additional aid. If it would be safer and more stable for them, don’t write it off too quickly.
Lastly, consider asking them upfront about what they would like to do and where they would like to live. While those with severe memory problems may not be able to answer this question, most seniors are still capable of speaking up for themselves. Talk to them about the pros and cons of both living situations and see where they think they would feel most comfortable. Just as you wouldn’t speak to a wills lawyer without them, it’s important to get their input. By doing this you ensure that they have a voice in their treatment and that they are getting to live in a place that they can enjoy safely for the rest of their years.