Too often we’re left clueless when it comes to taking care of our parents, especially the elderly. “They [parents] are going through a phase of life we haven’t experienced yet, and we don’t know how to handle that,” I get this from people a lot. Elderly care requires more than sincerity and self-sacrifice. It requires the right kind of information and thoughtful planning. Today I’ll explain to you six simple steps you need to remember when taking care of an elderly parent.
Determine the Issues:
You need to determine what shortcomings your parents might have in terms of functioning normally. Elders are necessarily disabled; all of them, but their capacities of managing their day-to-day activities all by themselves sure vary. For example, you might have a parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, in which case you need to be specifically careful about their medication because they can be forgetful. So the first thing you need to do after taking up this responsibility is determining the potential issues you will be facing, and then you can move to devising solutions.
Create A Comfortable Space:
Next important step is maintaining a space which is elderly-friendly. Make sure there isn’t any clutter in the living area, that’s where elders generally spend most of their time on the TV. Make sure moving around the place is not a problem for them. There’s no fancy vase in the high traffic area of the house. The floors aren’t too slippery, and if they are you have them covered by rugs. Also make sure there are not any cords in the living room, hallway or their room sprawled all over the floor. It’s too easy just to get your foot tangled in them and trip.
Know Their Medications – And Doctor:
It’s good to stay in-touch with the doctor. Chances are since you’re the caregiver you would be taking your parent to the doctor mostly – even if your siblings or family offers to take up the responsibility sometimes. Have a detailed discussion with the doctor about the medication, the health issues and the dietary requirements of your parent so you can prevent any complications later. Remember always to take notes and keep all the prescriptions etc. well-arranged and handy. If they have any mental disability/disorders, take up the responsibility of giving them their medicines because they might forget to take them, or worse, overdose themselves.
Take a Break:
Essentially, you should take a break from caregiving every once in a while. You can do so by giving someone from your siblings or your extended family any one of your responsibilities for a given day and head out for fun – or simply stay at home while they’re gone to the grocery or a doctor’s visit. This break is essential to keep the relation of caregiving from eroding. Living with an elderly person can get very hard at times, and strain for extended periods of times can even cause resentment which will ultimately affect the elder because you’ll end up being poor at caregiving.
Make Work Adjustment:
Another necessary step is letting your boss know about the new responsibility that you’ve taken up. If you’re an entrepreneur and have your own business, you can reschedule everything by yourself. But if you’ve got a job, like many of the general population, I would advise you to let your employer know your limitations and the timings you aren’t available at. For example, you can let your boss know you can’t stay for overtime because you’ve got to get back early. Also, make sure your boss is willing to provide you leave in case of emergency. Because elders are more prone to an emergency hospital visit, and being a caregiver you’re going to be the attendant.
Keep Them Social:
We all know how crucial happiness is for our health. Joy and good health go hand in hand. And healthy human contact is vital for a good mental health. Try to keep your parents active and socially involved. Have them join various social clubs, encourage them to pursue their hobbies. Take them out on a shopping visit, or to the new ice-cream parlour down the street. It’s all about the quality time that they get to spend with you. Even if you can’t give them time on a regular basis, arrange for them certain activities that allow them to meet up and be friends with people of their age group.
With the right kind of care and attention, both you and your parents can enjoy the bliss of this relation.