As people get older, they need more care. It is unfortunate, but it is a fact of life. It can be upsetting to see people you love losing their ability to do day-to-day tasks as they age, but if you learn how best to help them, you will have peace of mind that they are being taken care of with as much dignity as possible.
Follow this guide to make sure that your elderly relatives, be they parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other family members, are safe and happy for as long as possible.
Make Sure They Keep Active
As much as possible, you should help your elderly relatives to lead an active life. As people get older, keeping fit becomes even more important and brings with it numerous health benefits. It can help people lose weight or keep weight off, which reduces pressure on the cardiovascular system. It can lessen the impact of chronic illness by lowering blood pressure and improving the digestive system. It can also increase the body’s strength and flexibility, lowering the risk of broken bones or other serious injuries in the event of a fall.
Encouraging and assisting a relative to keep fit into their old age is essential. You could join an exercise class with them or show them gentle stretches and yoga poses they can do to improve their balance and strength. If you make exercising fun, your relatives will not just benefit physically—their mental health should also improve.
Encourage an Active Social Life
It can be harder as people age to keep up with existing friends or make new ones, but maintaining a diverse and engaging social life is so important. You could urge your elderly family members to join a class or group such as a book club. Not only would this keep their minds engaged by promoting reading, but it would also provide a regular social engagement with like-minded people.
Loneliness can be a big problem among the elderly, and it is not healthy to rely only on one or two people for all social interaction. Advise and help your relatives to make new friends and talk to as many people as possible. It is hugely beneficial.
Learn Their Medical History
With age comes a greater likelihood of medical problems. These problems can range from big to small and minor to serious, but what they all have in common is the potential to become dangerous if left untreated.
It is a good idea to find out about any and all illnesses or health conditions that your relative has so that you can be on hand to help if anything does become more serious.
Make a list of any underlying or chronic conditions they suffer from, as well as any medicines they are taking and how much they cost. This will keep you aware of any upcoming bills your relative may have to pay. You should also ask your relative to check that their health insurance is up to date and covers them for any extenuating circumstances that may occur.
Are There Any Safety Issues?
Unfortunately, as people get older safety issues relating to day-to-day tasks can arise. This can mean that simple activities like driving become hazardous.
If your relative still drives, keep an eye on their health and physical condition. It is not always immediately obvious how aging may affect driving, but reduced neck mobility can make it harder to look both ways and slower reaction times can cause accidents.
Many people find it hard to even consider giving up driving, as it is an important source of independence. If your relative loses their ability to drive, it is vital that you give them space to vent about this. It is hugely frustrating, so allow them to react in whatever way they need to.
You can then work together to find a solution, whether that means they use public transport more frequently or you provide them with rides. Either way, be sensitive and understanding to their feelings.
Help With Day-to-Day Activities
As time progresses further, there may be elements of everyday life that your relatives begin to struggle with. As difficult as this can be to accept, it is inevitable and you should be prepared to help with basic tasks however you can.
Simple, everyday jobs, often called “instrumental activities of daily living”, or IADLs, can become more difficult with age. These include activities like grocery shopping and organizing personal finances.
To assist, why not organize a weekly trip to the store on their behalf? You could also sit down with them to assess their finances or regularly fill their freezer with home-cooked food, so they do not have to prepare their own meals. Provide any help with IADLs that you can and consider how you could make your relative’s life a little easier.
Consider a House Move
There may come a day when you and your relative feel that their housing situation is no longer suited to their needs. Again, this can be a difficult time, so behave respectfully and do not force your opinions on them.
In some circumstances, small adjustments to the home can suffice, whether that means widening doorways, adding ramps, or modifying the bathtub and shower.
Sometimes though, these amendments are not enough and if more hands-on care is required, you may need to consider moving your relative to a retirement community or elderly living facility. To see what kind of assisted living is available, take a look at https://www.belmontvillage.com/. There are options available to suit everybody’s needs and desires.
Discuss End-of-Life Care
Nobody enjoys thinking or talking about the end of a life, but it is essential to have a sensitive conversation about your relative’s end-of-life requests and desires before it is too late.
Find out about their end-of-life requests—what do they want? What do they absolutely not want? You should also make sure you are aware of what precise steps to take when your relative passes. Who will be responsible for organizing the funeral, the will, and other such difficulties?
It will not be an easy conversation, but if everyone involved approaches it with respect and sensitivity, you can use it as a chance to bond and bring your family closer together at a difficult time.
If you follow these suggestions, you should ease the sometimes difficult process of helping an aging family member live life to the fullest. The most important thing to remember is to focus on the dignity and wellbeing of your relatives and to treat them with love and empathy at all times.