How do I care for the elderly?
The good news about elderly care? By taking on board a few common-sense lessons, you’ll be ready for almost anything.
It may take you a little while to find your feet, and that’s only natural. But the basic principles of looking after an elderly relative aren’t some big secret. You’ll just want to make sure you:
Keep communicating with your loved one
Do a bit of research and forward-planning
Adapt their home to make it safer and more secure
Encourage them to keep doing the things that matter to them
You might also want to ask for help from a live-in carer. They can lighten the load by moving into your loved one’s home and providing round-the-clock care. Live-in care is our specialty and, if you decide it’s for you, we can have someone on your doorstep in as little as 24 hours.
Have plenty of chats
A simple way of keeping elderly care on track is just by popping the kettle on and having a chat.
These chats are essential. They’re a great way of making sure your loved one feels like they have a say, that you’re not keeping anything from them and trying to make decisions over their head. But it’s about you, too. It’s about making sure your loved one is safe, comfortable and secure, even if that sometimes means making a decision they don’t like.
Maybe you are concerned about their wellbeing and feel you need to step in. Maybe you need to discuss powers of attorney, so you’ll be able to step in should the worse happen. And maybe you’ll even need to discuss elderly care with them, and how they feel about receiving additional support beyond your own remit.
Remember, you and your relative aren’t going to agree on everything. That’s only to be expected. But if you’re open with each other, and take the time to discuss how you’re feeling in a relaxed environment, it needn’t become a sticking point.
Get help around the home
With home care, you’ll be able to focus on spending quality time with your loved one.
There are two main types of home carers. Some will pop in intermittently throughout the week, for as long as agreed. Others will stay in your loved one’s home around the clock, and will be on call whenever they’re needed. This is known as live-in care.
Both types of home carers are there to support with whatever your loved one needs. They may go shopping, prepare meals or change lightbulbs. Or they may administer medical support, including for those who need low to mid-level dementia care. Their costs will vary depending on the amount of support your loved one needs, though it’s often more cost-effective to have someone on hand around the clock.
You can work alongside the home carer to offer your loved one support, or you can leave the bulk of the care duties to them. That way, you’ll be able to focus on the important part: the relationship at the heart of it all.
Do your homework
There are a lot of resources out there to help you earn your elderly care stripes
First, you may want to see if your loved one is eligible for financial or medical support. Pay your loved one’s GP a visit, and ask for a free care assessment. They’ll tell you if the government or local authority may be able to help you out, and point you in the right direction of services that may be able to offer further advice on the day-to-day challenges. They’re a great way of finding out what works for others in your situation.
Your GP will also be able to identify early warning signs for certain conditions – giving you more time to prepare if you need to consider dementia care or Alzheimer’s care, for example. The earlier you’re able to identify any upcoming challenges, the more you’ll be able to understand about how they work and how to adapt.
The internet is also full of useful hints and tips. Organisations like AgeUK and Elderly Accommodation Counsel offer a trove of valuable content, which can help you make sense of everything from financial aid to disability-friendly trips. Of course, so much information can get confusing. But over time, you’ll identify what works for your family and what doesn’t.
Arrange some home improvements
There’s no reason your loved one shouldn’t be able to stay put in the home they know and love. But you might want to make a few changes so it’s safer and more comfortable for them to spend time in.
You may, for example, think about improving:
Accessibility by Installing stair lifts, bathroom rails and ramps
Security by improving the locks on front and back doors
Soundproofing by attaching perimeter seals to doors
Lighting by cutting back hedges blocking windows and adding light sensors
Navigation by labelling drawers and cupboards
Just remember to get sign-off from your loved one before you make any changes. They need to be a part of the process, too.
Elder gives me peace of mind
“I have been able to return to my normal life, totally relaxed that my mother is in capable hands with all her needs being more than catered for.”
Treat them much the same
Elderly care is about giving them the support they need. But it’s also about letting them lead the life they want to lead.
In short, nothing should change dramatically. Anything you do should simply enable them to do the things they’ve always loved doing. Cooking, gardening, going to the cinema, catching up with friends – you name it. Whatever they love doing, encouraging them to keep at it – and sometimes acting as a taxi driver – is key in making sure they remain active, healthy and happy.
Trips with the family are a great way to keep them engaged, too, and there’s no reason limited mobility needs to put an end to them. There are plenty of great trips all over the UK with a focus on accessibility, meaning they still get to spend quality time with you and the family. You can find lots of suggestions with a quick Google.
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