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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

What You Need to Know About Caring for an Elderly Relative

What You Need to Know About Caring for an Elderly Relative
Aging is a fact of life, and while you might not think about your relatives getting older, it’s going to happen sooner or later. When you’re young, it’s difficult to imagine how a relative’s aging is going to affect them or indeed you. While they’re still in good health, you might not be too concerned. However, there will come a time when the effects of aging become more apparent and long-term care may be needed. They will experience a decline in physical and mental abilities, there may be changes to their appearance, and their standard of life may change, together with their emotional well-being.
Understanding how aging affects people and being aware of the options available means you can offer support and guidance.
Taking care of an elderly relative is one of the most challenging and difficult things you may ever have to experience. If you are, or soon will be, caring for an elderly relative here are some things you need to know.

Do Your Research
There are plenty of options when it comes to caring for an elderly relative. As a person's health deteriorates, a nursing home is generally the first option most people consider; however, it is possible for your loved one to retain their independence by living at home. There’s lots of support in the community and adjustments that can be made in their home.
A home can be modified to allow wheelchair or walker access. A ramp can be installed if steps have become a problem. Arm rails can be installed throughout the house to help them get around and for using the bathroom safely.
There are organizations that deliver frozen meals to seniors who live at home. There may also be schools, senior homes and faith-based settings that offer meals in a community setting.
Adult day care is another option worth considering and can be particularly valuable when an elder is alone all day and feeling lonely. As well as socializing with others of the same age, there may be arts and crafts, exercise, games and organized visits.
It’s also possible that your relative may not be able to stay in their home, because their health has deteriorated too much or it’s simply not a safe option. When a relative has Alzheimer’s or dementia, for example, they may need specialist care. If you’re worried about how to pay for this type of care, don’t be because there are financial resources available to help.

Have a Routine
If you’ve decided to care for your relative in your own home it’s important to get into a routine as this will mean you’re able to get so much more done. Agree a time for breakfast, for example, or a time when you need to help them out of bed and to get dressed. Your routine can also include regular times for meals and medication. If you’ve got a lot to do every day with regards their care, it might help if you make a list and tick tasks off as you go.
Setting a routine is not something you can do on your own. You’re not your relatives guardian after all, and they should be allowed some input because that makes them feel more in control. Sit down and have an honest conversation about things and if you’re open with each other, you’ll be able to see each other’s point of view. Agreeing on a routine together also means there’ll be fewer disagreements later on.

Don’t Ever Be Too Embarrassed to Ask for Professional Help
Taking on the care of an elderly relative all by yourself is a very brave thing to do. It is, however, unnecessary as there are plenty of people who can lend a hand. A live-in caregiver, for example, would be able to move into a spare room in your relative’s home and be available to provide 24-hour support and one-on-one care. If your relative needs something in the middle of the night, wants something from the store, or anything else they might be needed for they’ll always be there. This type of care can be very helpful if a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. They will be able to provide a supportive role or a more leading role in the care of your relative.

It’s Vital You Look After Yourself
If you spend a large portion of your time looking after your relative it’s going to be very easy to forget about caring for yourself. You’ll be no good to anyone if you burn out. There are things you can do to ensure you’re in tip top condition. For example, getting enough sleep is vital, along with plenty of regular exercise. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is also going to keep you in good health.
Something else you should remember is that there’s lots of help available for caregivers. The first person you should talk to is your doctor. Let them know what you’re doing to help your relative and they’ll be able to assess your health accordingly. As well as ensuring you’re getting what you need to stay healthy, they’ll also be able to offer you advice with regards your lifestyle. There are going to be other caregivers in the area and your GP will be able to put you in touch with them. Having a support network is important.

One final tip is to make sure you’ve scheduled some “you” time into your routine. Even a five minute breather is going to make a difference to the way you feel. However, a few hours, days, or even a week to yourself will be very beneficial. If you’ve got family or friends who can help out in the longer term perhaps they won’t mind taking the reins so you can take a break. If family or friends aren’t an option for you there are care companies who will be able to help in the short term. Respite care is going to be available wherever you might live. A quick search online should provide a solution.     
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