As we get older, we often witness our parents go through changes that we have not thought about. Their bodies and minds are starting to decline, and even if they lead healthy lives, many of the changes are beyond their control. At some point, they will likely become dependent on others to maintain a certain quality of life.
This transition can be a challenging one. Some older relatives may elect to live in an assisted living facility like a nursing home. Others may have enough independence to live in a retirement community. Still, others will be able to age in place in the comfort of their homes.
No matter the living situation, we have a duty to care for our aging relatives, especially since they poured so much of themselves into raising us. However, caring for an elderly individual is not easy. Here are a few tips to help you care for your loved ones more effectively.
Old age can be a lonely time. Often, if your parents or grandparents are in their 70s or 80s, most of the people they grew up with have passed away. Their parents, friends, classmates, coworkers, and other acquaintances are no longer around, making them very dependent on the few relationships they have left. Although it may feel inconvenient, it is important to visit them often if possible. At the very least, it will benefit their mental health immensely and help stave off the loneliness. It benefits you and your kids to have this influence in your lives as well. Research suggests that children who have good relationships with their grandparents experience developmental benefits as a result since they learn to relate to other generations.
Become A Caretaker
Perhaps your aging relative has higher health demands. If you are willing to take on the burden, then you could consider becoming a caretaker for them. In many cases, you could even get paid to do so through insurance. Maybe you can visit them regularly if they live close by to help with basic life tasks. For example, helping them with various medications and dissolving pills can ensure they are following the doctor’s orders to maintain quality of life. Additionally, if you have the house for it, you could have an aging parent or grandparent move into the guest room. This will ensure you are close by to provide medical assistance, and being surrounded by loved ones will support their mental health.
Physical fitness is often one of the first things to do when adults get older. They start to feel more aches and pains than usual, discouraging them from engaging in strenuous activities. However, working out is even more important for aging bodies if they want to remain healthy for as long as possible. It may be necessary to exercise together if they are not interested in working out alone. You can engage in low-impact activities together, such as swimming, pickleball, walking, biking, or Yoga. Having someone to exercise with is usually easier than doing it alone, especially when you are older.
Consider Medical Training Courses
If you spend a lot of time around your aging relatives, and they have significant health needs, then you may spend a lot of time worrying if something will go wrong. How will you respond, and can emergency services get there in time to help? If you want a little peace of mind in this area, you may want to consider taking some medical training courses. For example, you could go through BLS certification training so that you know basic life support practices in case a medical emergency occurs. CPR is another practical skill that you could get certified for. Having these skills could save the life of your loved one if something goes wrong and you are the only one around to respond until the paramedics arrive.
Involve Them In Every Conversation
Aging relatives do not always know what is best for them. It is not unusual for seniors to be a little defensive and even stubborn about their decisions. This can make for a lot of uncomfortable conversations if you recognize that they are not considering the best course for their health and well-being. The key to navigating these decisions is to do so together. Honest communication is necessary when making big decisions with your aging relatives. If they do not feel included in the whole process, this can lead to resentment or a refusal to cooperate, even if the change makes sense for their needs. Every conversation regarding their future should include them.
Take Care Of Yourself First
Taking care of others can take up a lot of time and emotional energy. Often, it can leave us completely sapped of strength if we are constantly looking out for others. If you are trying to care for your older relative, you need to first take care of yourself. You cannot pour anything out if your cup is completely empty. Invest in your own physical wellness and mental health first. Then, you will be better suited to care for your aging loved ones using some of the strategies mentioned above.