The aging population struggles with various health conditions. Data from the National Council on Aging shows that an estimated 95% of elderly persons have one chronic condition, while 80% have two or more chronic health issues. Caring for elderly parents with chronic health issues is challenging and emotionally tasking to caregivers and aging adults.
Fortunately, parental caregivers can make a difference in the lives of elderly persons. Besides enlisting the help of professional caregivers, like Husky Senior Care, the following tips can improve the quality of life for your aging loved one.
Caregivers should begin by ensuring they understand the health issues facing their aging loved one. Understanding your aging parent’s specific conditions enables you to anticipate and support their health needs:
- Researching the illness: Learning about your parent’s health issues goes a long way in improving the quality of care given. You can learn more from medical journals, websites, and consulting healthcare service providers.
- Learn about their medications: Knowing your aging parent’s medications also improves the quality of care. Generally, you should learn the proper dosage and common side effects.
- Communicate with their primary healthcare providers: Caregivers should establish clear communication channels with the aging loved one’s healthcare team. You can do so by attending and actively participating in their medical appointments.
- Learn how to recognize warning signs: You can easily lose your loved one by ignoring common warning signs of disease complications.
Most seniors and caregivers place the least emphasis on healthy eating. Unfortunately, poor nutrition can worsen their health. Aging adults also have trouble chewing and swallowing, resulting in inadequate food intake. Side effects of medications also impair their appetite and digestion. Good nutrition is crucial for maintaining their overall health and well-being. Good nutrition benefits aging parents in the following ways:
- Promotes their physical health: Advancing age takes a toll on your parent’s physical health. A balanced diet helps replenish depleted proteins, vitamins, and minerals. This helps them maintain weight, improve their immune system, and prevent complications.
- Boosts energy levels: Aging parents need the energy to complete their daily tasks and remain independent. Nutritious foods like whole grains and lean proteins ensure they don’t lack energy. Proper hydration is also important, as dehydration causes cognitive impairment.
- Supports bone health: Osteoporosis and increased risk of fractures are common among the elderly. Vitamin D and calcium in the diet promote bone health.
- Improves their mental health: Proper nutrition also improves cognitive and mental health. Vital nutrients, such as B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, reduce the risks of developing mood disorders, dementia, and general cognitive decline.
- Supports immune health: Aging parents also struggle with declining immunity. However, supplementing vitamin C, Zinc, and antioxidants improves their immunity, helping them fight off common infections.
The importance of regular exercise to aging adults shouldn’t be ignored. Regular exercise can help manage most chronic illnesses affecting the elderly, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Developing an exercise routine for your elderly parent is beneficial in the following ways:
- Maintains physical health
- Improves cognitive function
- Boosts mood and mental health and well-being
- Helps regulate weight
- Improves their independence
- Enhances social engagement
Families and designated caregivers should consult fitness professionals and physicians on the best exercises to help their aging parents. If your parent can’t exercise fully due to their present health condition, minimal stretches should be encouraged to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
Caring for your aging parents is physically and emotionally tasking. While this doesn’t mean ditching your parents, caregivers deserve some break for rest, recharge, and attend to personal commitments. Enlisting the help of professional respite caregivers comes in handy.
Respite caregivers can step in to look after your aging parent for a few days, weeks, or months. They offer companionship, specialized care, and other benefits. Below are a few reasons you should consider respite care for your aging parent:
- Relief for family caregivers: Hiring professionals gives you and other family members a much-needed break from caregiving. Taking breaks from exhausting caregiving tasks is important for your health and well-being.
- Continuity of care: Respite care is offered by professional caregivers who ensure they maintain your aging parent’s quality of life while you take some time off. This uninterrupted care reduces stress and maintains an established routine for your senior parent.
- Personalized care and support: Care providers provide specialized care that meets your parent’s unique needs. They can assist with mobility support, medication management, and other activities of daily living.
- Professional expertise: Respite care providers are trained to care for aging adults. They can handle different situations, including complex care needs and medical emergencies.
- Trial for other care settings: You can also introduce respite care as a trial before exploring other care options, such as memory care or assisted living facilities. This allows aging adults to experience different environments and care settings before making the move.
Surprisingly, visits to the AR by seniors with chronic health issues occur every 17 seconds, with most of them being due to falls. Seniors with chronic conditions are at high risk for falls.
You should assess the living conditions of your aging adult immediately after they are diagnosed with a chronic condition. You can prevent falls and injuries through the following:
- Modifying your home: Modifying your home creates a safe living environment for your aging parent. Simple changes, such as better lighting, handrails, and grab bars, especially in the bathroom, reduce the risk of falls. Assistive devices, such as raised toilet seats and walking aids, are also important.
- Proper medication management: Falls and injuries can also be caused by medications. Some prescriptions for chronic conditions can cause drowsiness or dizziness. If you notice this, consult your primary health care provider.
- Communication and emergency preparedness: Make it easier for your parents to communicate their concerns, especially near-miss incidents. You should also establish an emergency plan of action in case of a fall.
Caring for your sick, aging parents requires a lot of patience and careful planning. However, creating a supportive environment and learning about their conditions can help parental caregivers improve their aging parent’s quality of life. Remember to prioritize your well-being and call in professional caregivers when in need.