Guest author Jenn Walker reminds us that we face challenges as we get older with not just ourselves, but also for our aging parents and relatives. Take these practical reminders and see how they may apply to your life and family.
Life can get more difficult as we age. As our bodies begin to wear down, we don’t have as much energy as we used to. It can be easy to get caught up in all of the individual, more personal issues that come with getting older, but one other thing to consider is how the people around us handle aging. More specifically, older relatives can’t fully take care of themselves due to their advanced years.
Just as we deal with the effects of aging, older relatives in our lives often reach a point where they can’t move around the way they used to. If you have relatives that are significantly older than you, be it a parent, sibling, aunt or uncle, they may require additional care due to a disabling condition. In many cases, it may be necessary to take on a caregiver role for your aging family member, but this isn’t a role that everyone can seamlessly fall into.
In this article, we’ll provide some guidance on caring for aging relatives, whether in a part-time or full-time capacity, so you can give your loved ones the attention they need to live as comfortably as possible.
Make an Effort to Visit Often
If your aging relative doesn’t require constant monitoring, it’s still important to visit them as often as possible. Social interaction is vital for nearly everyone, and it’s especially important to seniors that spend a considerable amount of time alone at home.
Even if you can only visit them once or twice a week, they’ll appreciate having someone to talk to, and it will allow you to grow closer with them and demonstrate your support.
Learn & Address Their Needs
Old age can cause many disabilities, both physical and mental, that make it difficult to get around the house and complete certain tasks. To fully take care of your aging relative, take time to learn what ails them and what can be done to make life easier. Some older relatives may just need help remembering to take their medication, while others may require constant care that includes assistance with food preparation and transportation.
Once you’ve learned what your relative needs help with, you can then take steps to help them in whatever way you can. If your relative needs help remembering to take medication, you could schedule a time to call them every day to remind them. Or, if your older relative has trouble walking due to stiffness or some other physical limitation, you could get them a cane or some other assistive device.
Make Modifications to Their Home
Another way to help your aging relative is by modifying their home to fit their current needs. Some disabilities and illnesses make it difficult to do things like climb stairs or even get out of bed, making it hazardous to just get around the house. If your older relative is still living at home and has no plans to move to an assisted living facility, there are a few modifications you can make to help them feel more comfortable and ensure their safety.
While railings are standard to have along staircases, they can be installed just about anywhere in the house that has space. Whether it’s in a living room near a couch or in the bathroom next to the toilet, additional railings will help your older relatives balance themselves and get around the house no matter what room they’re in.
Make the Bathroom Safe & Accessible
On the topic of accessibility, the one room in your older relative’s house that should be as accessible as possible is the bathroom. There are many ways to make a bathroom safer for older relatives, including non-slip floor mats, shower chairs, and raised toilets that are easier to get off of. No one should have to sacrifice their cleanliness due to a disability, and you’ll ensure your relative doesn’t have to by making the necessary adjustments to their bathroom.
Keep Things Organized
Old age makes it difficult to move around and remember where things are on occasion, and if your loved one has issues with either, it can be helpful to keep everything in their home organized and tidy. If your aging relative has problems moving around the house, keeping the floor free of clutter will prevent them from potentially falling and causing harm to themselves. And if they have issues with their memory, it can be beneficial to keep things like medications and TV remotes in one consistent place, so they don’t have to search for them.
Keep Them Active
Staying active is important at any age, but it’s even more crucial as we get older. Certain physical and mental disabilities can be kept at bay with regular exercise, and it can help improve the condition of some people who are already experiencing a disability. To improve your aging relative’s quality of life, there are a number of things you can do to help them stay physically and mentally sharp.
If your loved one is physically able, something as simple as an outdoor walk or light aerobics could dramatically improve how they feel. Although their joints and muscles may not be as strong as they used to be, light exercise can be a great way to keep them active and strengthen their bodies over time.
Mental activity is just as important as physical activity, as it can improve memory and ensure your aging relative’s critical thinking skills remain intact. Reading a book or playing games like Sudoku are great ways to keep the mind sharp. These activities can also be done alone or together with your older relative, giving the two of you a chance to bond over something enjoyable.
Hire a Home Care Agency
Caregiving is a role with several challenges, and not everybody is suited for taking care of another person in a part-time or full-time capacity. If you’re concerned about the well-being of your aging relative, but you don’t have time to care for them yourself, many home care agencies can lend a helping hand. These companies provide customized care to help people live more comfortably at home, whether someone is recovering from surgery or living with a persistent medical condition.
We understand that caring for aging relatives can be difficult, but with the help of a home care agency, they can receive the care they need while you get peace of mind knowing they’re in capable hands. Whether they need short-term or long-term care, or they need to be monitored at all hours of the day, a home care agency can handle it all.
About the Author
Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.