Watching our loved ones get older and weaker with time is a very daunting feeling. It brings out the harshest realities of life into the light. The combination of old age, weakness, and long-term illness render your loved ones helpless and in dire need of care.
Here’s where senior caregivers play a vital role. They offer a unique support system to individuals requiring extra care by performing several tasks for the patient and helping their family members cope with the changes. The line between independence and dependency is blurry at the start, but caregivers have to keep an open eye to prepare for more challenging times. It is even more challenging I you intend to be the primary caregiver for a loved one.
Below we come up with some of the best advice for new caregivers to easily help them take care of individuals and support them during these challenging times.
1. Plan ahead
Your parent’s denial about their deteriorating health and care needs and your denial about their old age can bring about a lot of trouble. You have to face the situation heads on and start planning ahead. We recommend that you start planning your parents’ caregiving needs at an age when the signs of aging and an impending long-term illness become prominent. Ask them about their retirement savings and living plans. Will they want to move in with you? Or will they want to live on their own with some care assistance?
Caregiving facilities such as nursing homes are also an option. Evaluate their insurance plans and where they would want to receive treatment. Planning ahead can save you from making difficult decisions at difficult times and give you complete oversight of your responsibilities.
2. Research senior care facilities and nursing homes
The benefit of planning is that it gives you all the time you need to research and prepare for when you become a full-time caregiver. But it is also beneficial to have a second option in mind. While your parents have a complete say in their living arrangements, you are the one who will have the final say depending on your capabilities. So research for senior care facilities and nursing homes beforehand and pick and choose from the best options. Facilities with the best healthcare management system for the elderly should be your top priority as they will be better equipped to deal with their healthcare requirements. Researching your options ensures that you won’t be making any rushed and ill-informed decisions regarding your parent’s needs.
3. Look for caregiver guidance
It is natural to have a hundred questions once you become a caregiver. And you have to find the necessary information to ensure the best health and hygiene for the elderly under your care. So get information about the food they can eat and methods to take care of the elderly from an organization like the National Family Caregivers Association. These organizations provide information about elderly health and caregiving methods. You can learn all you need to know from them and seek their help whenever you face a problem.
4. Settle all the professional aspects
You and your parents have to come to terms with the reality of old age and death. So, it is best to prepare for all the professional aspects before you hit any crisis. Start by deciding on nursing home or home aide facilities, and then determine the hospital or doctor your parent wishes to get treatment. After these aspects have been taken care of, consider having your parents prepare a will. Once you wrap all these aspects, your parents and you can focus on more pressing matters of health and give each other some quality time in the meanwhile.
5. Invest in technology
Being a caregiver is not an easy task. The reality is that you can’t keep a check on your parents 24 hours a day. Especially if you have a job and a home to take care of. You will need all the help you can get. So invest in technologies that will help you monitor your parent’s health and condition at all times. Get gadgets to check blood pressure and insulin levels. Use medication dispensers so that they can administer the right medicine at the right time. You can also have them wear alert gadgets so that you can give them care and help in case of an emergency.
6. Be there for them
Old age is a hard time when a person becomes more dependent on other people. It can have a severe psychological effect on the elderly. At times, they will get frustrated and give you a hard time. You have to understand their condition and emotions throughout this time.
The best way to deal with such demanding situations is by being there for them emotionally. Getting upset can be a health hazard for the elderly if their blood pressure shoots. Don’t leave the elderly alone when they are angry and try to calm them down instead. Apart from that, give them company as much as you can and show your love and support. The last thing an older adult going through end-of-life conditions is that their dependency is causing a burden on the person looking after them. So make them feel welcome and comfortable in their arrangement so that these hard times can become more manageable.
7. Take some time out for yourself.
You can’t become a caregiver if you cannot take care of your own physical and mental well-being. No matter how well you plan out the process for a loved one, emotional and physical stress is inevitable. So don’t forget to tend to yourself and take time out every once in a while. We recommend meditation. If you meditate for even 10 minutes daily, it will help you relax and deal with the stress. Besides, your health is just as important as theirs. So if it feels overwhelming, sit down in a quiet spot and empty your mind of thoughts while you try to relax.
Old age is not an easy time for the elderly and the people around them. So don’t feel guilty if you cannot provide all the help they need on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in these times, and set a caregiving schedule that can help you focus on your life and be there for them at the same time. But most of all, understand and love them. Your parents are incredibly vulnerable, and they need you there for them. So don’t be shy in giving your attention even if you can’t give them the best of everything else.