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Caring for Your Senior Loved One at Home

Caring for Your Senior Loved One at Home

Caring for an aging parent or other elder loved one at home is a big responsibility, but often rewarding. A 2018 AARP survey found that 86% of adults 65 years of age or older strongly prefer to stay in their current home. When you provide enough help to let your elder loved one live in their own home, you’re giving them a gift of love.

But few of us have learned how to be caregivers, especially for seniors. It can be a lot to manage and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are many helpful resources—whether you’re trying to plan for the future or you’re already giving care and looking for tips to help handle it better.

Making their home work for them

One of the best things you can do for your loved one (and yourself) is to survey their living space. What needs to change for their safety and independence? Making activities easier for them and preventing accidents reduces demands on you and lets your loved one enjoy doing activities independently. Consider the following:

  • Removing throw rugs and using anti-slip backings and non-skid surfaces to prevent falls
  • Installing handrails near toilets and in showers
  • Placing motion-activated night lights around the house
  • Putting commonly-used items within easier reach
  • Buying devices to help aid in their efforts to open jars or cans, read more easily, or activate lights with voice commands

If you’re able to afford it, consider hiring an Aging in Place Specialist. They can visit your home and recommend changes to be made for your loved one’s safety and independence. This will also give you more peace of mind.

Medication safety

Helping your loved one with their medications is an essential task. They may have complex needs, such as multiple daily doses, other meds to take only as needed, and different ways to take them (like an injection versus a pill). Overdoses and bad drug interactions can be serious, even fatal, so prevention is very important.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If your loved one has prescriptions from different doctors, ask your pharmacist to review the full medication list for any problems or information you should know. This might include:

  • Timing their doses, which to take on an empty stomach and/or which to take with food
  • Knowing which medications are affected by certain foods (like grapefruit), antacids, or other over-the-counter drugs
  • Making sure you understand how to do tasks accurately, like splitting or crushing a pill
  • Using pillboxes and other systems to sort medications or to store “take as needed” drugs separately from daily ones

Giving a good quality of life

A key reason that many seniors wish to age in place is to enjoy life’s little joys. Therefore, your caregiving plan should focus on how to help your loved one feel happy and fulfilled. Here are some ways achieve this:

  • Research community programs for seniors, such as classes, elder daycare, and social gatherings. Loneliness is a problem for elders; getting them out and making friends helps prevent that.
  • Make mealtimes social. Instead of serving them food and hurrying off to do other tasks, eat with them or at least sit with them, talk, and connect.
  • Seek out ways for them to get gentle exercise. Even short walks are helpful for your loved one’s mind, body, and spirit.
  • Play games and do other activities that challenge their brain and stave off boredom.
  • Remind them that they still have a lot to offer. This is a great time to pick those brains about family history or major events they lived through, ask their advice, or learn favorite family recipes.
  • Find ways for them to spend time with animals. Even if they can’t have their own pet, greeting the regulars at the dog park or having a guest pet for an afternoon can offer a lot of joy.

Paying attention to change

It can be hard to accept when your loved one is having a tougher time with everyday tasks, but it’s important to watch for signs that they’re declining. Be aware when they need extra help or more care, and be honest with yourself when it’s clear that they need more care than you can give at home.

Some of the changes you’ll want to be aware of include:

  • Difficulty grooming themselves, including forgetting to do it or losing interest in it
  • Trouble getting up from chairs, out of bed, or walking without help
  • Straining to see or read things they could handle before
  • Confusion with tasks or trouble remembering simple steps
  • Memory loss, especially if they can’t remember when to take medication
  • Becoming frustrated with activities they used to do with more ease

Sometimes, these signs may just mean that they need a simple change—a different medication, stronger glasses, or items that are easier to use. But if they start showing that they need more help than you can provide, consider Frederick Health Home Care or a senior care facility. Remember, you aren’t failing them if and when that time comes. It’s just doing more of what you’ve been doing all along: looking out for their best interests and making the most loving choices you can make—with them and for them. In the meantime, the tips mentioned in this article will help you make the most of the precious time you have together.