There are lots of reasons why you might end up caring for an elderly relative, but it’s a tough job. Perhaps you feel it’s your duty to care for your parent in their senior years just as they cared for you when you were a child. Perhaps you have a relative who has always hated the idea of going into a care home, or maybe the costs are too high. Whatever your reasons, it’s an incredibly kind and generous thing to do for a person.
Here are five tips to help resolve some issues when looking after an elderly relative.
Caring for a loved one can be a huge financial burden. Support is available, though, so it’s important to make sure you’re not missing out on anything you are entitled to.
Government-funded support includes help with the cost of medical care and supplementary income for elderly people. There are also charities and voluntary organizations which can provide support too, so do your research to make sure you’re not missing out.
Many older people start to refuse meals which can lead to health problems. Getting to the root of issues around eating will make everyone’s lives easier. Often, it’s not because they aren’t hungry but because they have difficulty chewing or swallowing their food.
Add flavor to food with herbs and spices, avoiding salt, can add interest for people unable to enjoy a range of textures anymore. For seniors with the swallowing condition dysphagia, a food thickener will help. SimplyThick is a gel-based option that makes it easier to add to food and doesn’t affect the texture.
Keep active together
Your relative staying mobile for as long as possible benefits everyone, so daily activity and weekly exercise are recommended. This benefits not only physical health but mental health too.
To break the monotony for both of you and to enjoy your time together more, take the time to go for a walk together or perhaps even swimming, or a yoga class could prove enjoyable.
Depression is common in older people, but very few seek help for the condition. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as losing interest in hobbies or meeting up with people, a lack of self-confidence, loss of appetite or memory, or frequently talking about death.
Dealing with depression without seeking medical help not only has an impact on the elderly person but on their caregiver too, so talk to a doctor as soon as possible if your suspect the person you care for is suffering from a mental health issue.
Take a break
It’s very common for caregivers to get burnt out, and that’s going to have a knock-on effect on the care being given. To avoid this, make sure you get help where it’s needed, either from another family member or hire professional services. Check out the local elderly options in your community, such as adult day programs which can afford you some much-needed time off.
Caregivers have an incredibly difficult job, but realizing the cause of problems and fixing them, along with taking time out for themselves, can make the job less of a strain.