Many of us expect to one day look after our elderly parents or find them a great care home to get professional care. Older adults tend to need help with many of their daily activities, such as eating, washing, taking medications, or doing their grocery shopping.
If you have decided to take things into your own hands and look after your older relatives yourself, you will need to dedicate a lot of time to help them. Depending on their current level of independence and any ongoing medical conditions that they have, you might become a part-time or full-time carer.
Being a carer takes a special type of person with the best qualities. Carers are selfless, empathetic, and patient. You are choosing to dedicate your time and energy to help another person, and that is truly special.
As rewarding as it can be, caring for another person can be difficult. It becomes especially challenging when your relative has health issues that need intensive management and treatment.
If you are currently a carer to one of your elderly family members, we’ve got a list of some top tips to make things easier for you. Following these tips should relieve some of the stress that comes along with being a part-time or full-time carer while enhancing the level of care that you can provide for your loved one.
Consider Home Modifications
If you are looking after your elderly relative while they are still living at home, it might be worth getting some home modifications done to make things easier for both you and your loved one. There is a wide range of different modifications and equipment that are now available for the elderly.
Some of the best home modifications to consider are:
- Switching the bath for a walk-in tub shower combo to make washing easier
- Getting handrails inserted in key areas of the home
- installing ramps at the front and back doors to make getting in and out of the property easier
- Getting doorways widened to make rooms more accessible, especially if your relative uses a walking frame or wheelchair
- Installing a stairlift so that your loved one can easily access the upper floors in their home
- Rearranging furniture to reduce safety hazards
Lowering kitchen desktops so that your loved one doesn’t need to reach up high and risk falling over when they are cooking
By modifying your loved one’s home, they can stay safe and retain as much independence as possible. When they are more independent, they will feel empowered and confident in themselves, and their quality of life will improve.
Be Patient and Encouraging
Older adults can find basic tasks much harder and, as a result, they might be much slower at doing things than younger adults. As hard as they try, they might be unable to do the same things that they once could.
It’s important to be as patient and empathetic as possible when caring for your elderly relative. Be encouraging when you are trying to be independent but don’t be afraid to step in if they need additional support.
Positive reinforcement is important for older adults. When you provide encouragement, you will instil confidence in them, and they will feel more comfortable trying to do things on their own.
If your loved one becomes overwhelmed or frustrated with their current situation, be gentle and caring. Remind them that they are strong and independent while also reiterating that you are there for them if they need the extra support.
Get Extra Help if Necessary
Sometimes, caring for an older adult is manageable at first. However, as a person gets older, their need for ongoing care can increase. If you find that you are starting to struggle with caring for your loved one, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Get in touch with a local hospital or community care team and enquire about the type of care packages that they offer. You might be able to arrange a daily carer that comes to your relative’s home and helps them with general day-to-day activities.
By getting professional help, you can rest assured knowing that your relative is getting the best care possible. It also relieves some of the pressure off your shoulders to provide 24/7 care for your loved one, so you can feel less stressed about the situation.
It’s not always easy handing some of the responsibility over to another person, especially when it’s the care of somebody who is very close to you. However, it’s sometimes necessary to ensure your relative is getting all of the care and support that they need.
Struggling to try and do everything by yourself could lead to errors or safety issues, especially as your loved one’s needs become more intensive.
Check in Regularly
If your loved one is at the stage where they are still mostly independent but need help with the odd thing here and there, you might not need to see them every day. However, you should always make sure to check in regularly with them.
Aim to see them a few times a week to see if they need help with anything and to check that are generally well. Older adults can often get lonely, especially when live on their own. By checking in with them, you can provide social and emotional support too.
Even if your relative has daily carers that come into their home to help them with eating and washing, your relative will appreciate seeing a familiar face. They will enjoy catching up with you over afternoon tea and learning about what the rest of the family are doing.
If other family members are free during the week, bring them along so that your loved one has some extra company. This will make them feel loved and cared for, and will help them to feel less stressed or worried about other things in their life.