Friday 18 November 2016

Caring for an elderly loved one

Whilst we may not like to think of our loved ones getting older and struggling with old age, time ticks on and we all get older with old age causing difficulties to some people’s lives. As old age creeps up on people being able to maintain an active and independent life sometimes becomes increasingly more difficult.

Being able to get out and about easily especially being able to drive oneself places may become a challenge. Looking after the home and coping with household chores may become too much. Caring for and managing to clothe, wash or even feed oneself may become too difficult.

When a loved one starts to struggle with looking after themselves due to the difficulties and declining health that old age can cause family members have to consider living arrangements and long-term care.

As my late great grandmother reached the last years of her life her health and ability to care for herself declined. With old age causing health issues she started to struggle with everyday tasks which made it difficult to maintain her independence and an active social life.

With my family having dealt with the predicament of care for elderly relatives and made use of various options including family care, in-house carers and care homes I have gleaned some worthwhile information about how to help your loved one live as independently as possible and what to consider when looking at care options.

Make of assistant aids and care products
Everyone is different and the difficulties that one elderly person may suffer from may well be completely different to another person so look at your loved one and find out what causing them difficulty.

By assessing your loved one and their needs and problems you can then try to help them overcome those challenges by making use of assistive aids and care products that will help them. For example if your loved one has difficulty getting in and out of the bath look at bath aids such as grab rails, bath steps, bath seats or bath lifts to help them maintain their independence and ability to bathe themselves.

Using care products and assistive aids can not only help people maintain their independence and allow them to do things once again without so much difficulty or pain but they can also help them keep their pride and save them from problems that may cause them embarrassment. For example if your loved one has incontinence issues make use of HARTMANN Incontinence Products such as incontinence pads and pants.

Find out your relative’s wishes and thoughts
Talk to your loved one to find out what wishes and thoughts they have on their future and care plan. Perhaps they want to stay in their own home as long as possible or maybe they like the idea of a assisted living residence or nursing home that could cater for their care needs.

By talking to your loved one you can take into account their wishes when considering care options. There is no point putting into place in-home help with carers who visit them or creating a schedule for you to care for them if they would be happier and want to live in an assisted living residence or nursing home.

Whilst you most probably would prefer to stick to your relative’s wishes there may become a time when you would have to consider other options if it is not working and your loved ones’ health and happiness is deteriorating. For example you may begin by helping care for them yourself and with the help of other family members in their own home but due to declining health and independence need extra help so you would have to reassess what care system works best for them.

Be flexible
When you initially realise your loved one needs a little bit of help their care needs might not be that much but as time goes on and their age even more their health and ability to be independent may deteriorate further. With that in mind it is important to be flexible and realise their care needs may change over time.

As their care needs change you will have to reassess the care system you have in place and adjust it accordingly. For example having a carer visit the house once a day may not longer be enough time and you may need to consider more visits, in-house carers who live in the residence or a care home. Likewise the care products and assistive aids you have in place may no longer be enough to help your loved one maintain a level of independence. For example if they struggle getting up and down the stairs you may have fitted a grab rail to help them which would have helped at the time, but with deteriorating health and mobility issues that might not work later on and you have to consider other options such as a stair lift.

Caring for a loved one can be challenging. Overall I think it is important to consider their personal care needs, don’t be afraid to ask for help and realise that their care needs may change over time.

Do you care for an elderly relative?

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