As we age, everything that was once taken for granted will become more difficult. Often, friends and family will need to step in and care for you.
If a loved one of yours needs to be looked after, then it may seem like the right thing to do to take care of them. But before you do decide to take care of someone in this way, it is important that you consider everything that is involved in caring for elderly relatives. Elder-care is more than a full-time job, and it will be both emotionally and physically challenging. In many cases, it may be best to find a respite care provider, to ensure your relative gets the best care they can. However, if you have decided to take this role on yourself, educating yourself about how to help them best is essential.
Here is everything you should think about when taking care of an elderly relative.
Keeping Medication Organized
One of the most important aspects of caring for an elderly relative is that you’ll need to make sure that they are taking any medication that they are on when they need to. They may be on several different medications for a variety of different conditions. Make sure you know about their medical conditions and understand what the medication is for. In addition, you should get to know more about the medication, including:
- When the medication needs to be taken
- What dosage do they require
- When you can order repeat prescriptions
You may be required to administer their medication or to check each day to ensure it has been taken.
Carrying Out Housework
If the elderly relative that you are caring for has limited mobility, then you may need to help them with their housework. While this may mean carrying out major tasks such as cleaning the whole house, it may also involve smaller tasks such as washing the dishes.
Assisting With Mobility
Since mobility is a problem for many older people, there are risk factors that you should be aware of. You may need to supervise or provide mobility aids to help them get about their day without having any slips, trips, or falls.
Make sure that the home environment is safe for them. This could involve making sure that the house is free from clutter, that the walkways are clear, that there are handrails throughout the home, that there is a stairlift in place, that walkers or wheelchairs are available as needed.
This wheelchair guide will talk you through finding the right wheelchair for the relative that you are caring for.
You should go through the house and identify any potential risks and make the necessary changes.
You’ll Need a Bathing Routine
Personal hygiene and health go hand-in-hand. Wherever possible, you should ensure that the relative that you’re caring for has some sense of independence when it comes to bathing and washing. To achieve this, you could provide handrails in the bathroom, along with baths and showers that are easily accessible.
When someone is unable to clean themselves, you will need to help them. Creating a bathing and washing routine is essential. This will ensure your loved one will stay clean all of the time. This will be even more important if your relative is either bed-bound or incontinent, as sores may form if you don’t keep proper hygiene.
You’ll Need to Cook for Your Relative
Unless your elderly relative is able to cook themselves, you will very likely to do this on their behalf every day. Make sure that you provide a healthy balanced diet that is not only varied, but that is also interesting. Make sure that mealtimes are something to look forward to.
If you want to save yourself some time, you may want to batch cook some meals so that these can be quickly reheated another day.
You May Need To Lift Your Relative
If the person that you are caring for has mobility issues, then it will be essential that you help them to get around. To do this, you may need to lift them up. If this is something that you need to do, ensure you do it safely and consider your own body. Make sure that you are not putting yourself at risk at all.
There may be lifting equipment that you can buy that will help you to lift your loved one safely. There may also be courses that you can take that teach you safe lifting and handling.
You’ll Need To Help Your Relative To Exercise
It is essential that you help keep your elderly relative as active as possible. Even if your elderly relative has mobility problems, there will be some exercises that they can do. This may just mean doing simple movements with their arms and feet. Find some basic routines that they can complete. Join in with the exercises with them to make them feel more at ease while they’re doing them.
You Will Need To Run Errands
There will often be errands that need to be run. If your elderly relative is unable to do them, you will need to do them on their behalf. This may mean going to the shop, paying bills for them, returning their library books, and much more. Try to maintain a routine so that you can easily keep up with the required errands.
There May Be Hospital Procedures
If your relative needs to go into the hospital for a procedure, you’ll need to be there to help them out with their aftercare. Make sure that you’re there to speak with the doctor and find out what you’ll need to do in terms of caring for them after the procedure. You will also need to ensure they are able to attend any follow-up appointments.
Providing End of Life Care
One of the hardest things that you’ll need to deal with is the end of life care. It will be important that you know exactly when you should call a hospice.
With all the best intentions, there will be times when caring for someone that you are close to will get to be too much for you. Make sure that you take a break whenever possible, and build a support network around yourself.
This is a collaborative post.