Everybody gets older one day and the hope is that there will be somebody to help take care of you when you begin to have mobility issues. Family is often the one to end up helping out so that you know your loved one is being properly cared for. If you have an elderly parent or relative that is trying to live independently, there are many things that you can do to help them live with a high quality of life in their later years.
There are a number of responsibilities and things that have to be done a certain way to make sure that they are actually being taken care of the right way. Preparation is key and having a plan is essential. In this article, we will go over several things that you should be doing to make sure that you are able to give them the best care.
1 – Get them equipped
Your loved one will need to be equipped with devices and equipment that will help them when you aren’t there. There are a lot of items that make life easier for those with mobility issues and will also help you care for them easier.
For instance, getting them a mobility walker is going to make sure that they can safely get around without the risk of falling. There will be times when you are not present and they may be having an emergency. Falls happen and if they have chronic illnesses then they may have an episode when you are out running errands, for example.
The best medical alert systems will help them get immediate help if they are on their own. Not only will it automatically call an ambulance for help, but you will also be alerted at the same time.
The house should also be modified to accommodate their needs. If they are confined to a wheelchair then you should try to renovate the house so there is accessibility for a wheelchair to maneuver. Otherwise, you will have to help carry them to certain areas like the bathroom. Sometimes it also makes sense to look for a different house vs renovating it altogether as the new house may be a better fit for your family member, ask your local real estate agent to do a quick market search to see if there are any houses for sale in your area that would fit your needs.
Renovating the bathroom is essential as it is where you will be tasked with their hygiene and it can be tricky to do so in a confined space that hasn’t been designed for this. A bidet is ideal for the elderly as it allows them to clean themselves up with water instead of having to wipe which could be an issue for many.
2 – Set realistic expectations
It is very important that you and your loved one are both on the same page when it comes to what to expect. You’ll both need to set some boundaries and explain what you hope to be able to do within those boundaries.
For instance, you may have to let them know what the schedule for care is going to be like. You’ll need to set aside time for your other responsibilities such as work, and taking care of your own household. It’s also important to have time to yourself for self-care. If you have set the expectation for a certain amount of time then your loved one will know what they should expect and won’t place burdensome demands on you.
You also need to understand your parent’s needs and their goals for this time when they are in need. This isn’t the time to impose an agenda on them, just as they can’t impose too much on you and your time.
Have a long conversation so there is nothing left to be assumed by either party and everybody knows what to expect from each other.
3 – Figure out the logistics
There are a number of ways to provide care. It is important to make an evaluation of what the care needs to be like and how you can best provide it. Some elderly people will need somebody to help them do everything from taking care of their physical hygiene to actually getting them fed. This means that you will be spending a considerable amount of time at their house. If you don’t live nearby then it makes sense to think about living there with them.
Living in their home will not only cut down on the time wasted getting there, but it will give you some insight into what their needs truly are and what you are able to realistically do. It may become obvious that the level of care they need is simply too great due to their mental and physical ailments. It would then be time to consider an assisted living facility.
Even if they are sharp mentally and have only a few physical limitations, there are going to be certain things that you should expect to have to do. Routine cleaning and the occasional deep cleaning is going to be your responsibility. As will be doing the grocery shopping and even preparing many of their meals.
It will likely be up to you to make sure their finances are in order and the bills get paid. It could even be your responsibility to take care of part of their bills yourself since their fixed income may not be enough. Look into getting a power of attorney to act on their behalf if they aren’t able to be in control of their finances.
4 – Leave some room for yourself
Caretakers often have a hard time finding time to tend to their own needs. They also will feel guilty for taking breaks if it means having to say no to their loved ones. Yet, it is vitally important to take care of yourself when you are a caretaker since burning out is a real possibility. Although you are acting out of love for your parents or relatives, it can take its toll on you emotionally and physically.
To truly help others you have to be able to take care of yourself. Take some time off to do things that you want to do for yourself such as going to a movie, or spending time with friends to recharge your batteries.