Tuesday 11 March 2014

Helping your Elderly Loved One Maintain their Independence.

When my great grandmother was alive during her last few years of her life she started struggling with everyday tasks making it difficult to keep her independence and the very social lifestyle that she enjoyed.  Unfortunately for her with old age came a fight to maintain the independence she had cherished and preserved for years. 

Being very close to my great grandmother, loving and admiring her for her strength of character and the achievements she accomplished during her earlier difficult life I hated seeing the spark and passion for life dwindling in her as she felt helplessness and anger at no longer being able to maintain an independent life.

Whilst we as a family supported my great grandmother, encouraged and helped her maintain her busy social life and helped her when with tasks she struggled doing independently so that she did not feel a burden and still felt that she could maintain an independent life without having to rely on family we organised home help for her.

It was a joy to see my great grandmother happier at being able to continuing living at home and enjoying her life thanks to getting some help for her at home with carers and by supporting and helping her ourselves.

When assisting an elderly relative or loved one, you may be looking for ways to help them maintain their independence and dignity. When you care for family it can be difficult to make sure they get the care they need without making them feel bad, disrespected or worthless. Plus as most people have their own commitments it can be hard to factor in caring for a loved one. After all, no one wants to feel helpless or as if they’re a burden to the people they love so it’s essential that we help them to avoid this feeling as much as possible. Helping an elderly loved on is a worthy, rewarding, loving thing to do but so that everyone is happy plus mentally and physically well we have to look at all options.

As we age, we may all need a little extra help when it comes to living our lives as we usually always have done. We’ve compiled a list of a few tips to help your loved one to do so as independently, happily and safely as possible.

Consider some at-home help.
As soon as you notice your elderly loved one struggling slightly with everyday tasks in their home, you don’t have to automatically think they should no longer live alone and should move to a care home. Whilst care homes are a great option with round the clock care and the opportunity to meet new people, there are alternatives with the same benefits that involve being able to stay at home. In fact, many care home companies like www.extracare.org.uk care homes also offer the chance for their nurses to visit people in their own homes daily to help them which is great if your loved one wants to stay where they are.

Help them to continue socialising.
Elderly people can feel isolated, especially if their mobility is limited and they are not too familiar with technology. You can help them to socialise with their friends and relatives by purchasing specialised phones with bigger buttons or louder volumes for example, and studies have even shown that iPads have been really beneficial for the elderly when it comes to socialising and keeping their brains active. Help them feel comfortable using a device like these as it will have a really positive impact on their life. Encourage them to visit friends and family if possible too. Being able to take control of their socialising will keep them feeling independent and able.

Encourage them to engage in existing/new hobbies.
One of the best ways to help your elderly loved one maintain their independence is to help them live their lives as normally as they always have done as possible. This can include things like continuing to engage in hobbies that they enjoy, or if that is no longer possible, perhaps a new one that is more suitable to their current abilities.

Help them keep on top of their medication
It’s important to aid them in being as healthy and fit as possible for them to lead an independent life. This will include things like optimising their diet, encouraging exercise and keeping up to date with any medication they are taking and visits to the GP. You can get things like medicine dispensers to help with this so they know exactly how many tablets to take each day which can make things a lot easier, especially if they take multiple medicines. You could also join a gentle keep-fit class together which would be a great way to stay active and to meet other people, too.

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