6 Steps For Better Elderly Care In the New Year
If you have an elderly loved one, the time might be approaching when more hands on care is required. Whether that need is just around the corner or still a few years away, now is the time to observe and prepare for a next step.
Vision, flexibility, motor skills, and other physical abilities often decline gradually. It’s not always easy to notice those changes until your senior has some kind of accident. A fender-bender, burned fingers from a hot stove or falling down on the way to another room, may be an accident anyone can experience or an indication of failing health.
Get a positive start to the new year. Take these six steps for better elderly care in the new year.
#1 – Record Your Loved One’s Past Capabilities
It’s not easy to look back and remember exactly how your loved one operated six months or year ago. However, it’s an important aspect in determining what care might be required moving forward. Think about their past actions. What ordinary tasks and activities did they perform every day? What did they enjoy doing? How often did they move around? What kind of strength and movement did they have? What size print could they easily read?
#2 – Observe Your Senior’s Current Abilities
Pay special attention to their vision, balance, flexibility, speed, reflexes, and memory. Watch for shakiness, grimacing or any other signs that the activity is either too painful or too difficult. You can likely make these observations through their normal course of household activities.
However, you may need to ask them to do a series of movements and tasks. Emphasize that doing so will put your mind at rest. Let them know you only want the reassurance they can still safely maneuver through their home to safely meet all of their needs. Seniors don’t want their family worrying about them so they should see that taking a few minutes to prove themselves is worthwhile.
If you are already providing your loved one a significant amount of physical assistance, then the point here is to determine if your arrangement is still a good one. Judge whether your senior needs any additional care or if they may even require full time assistance.
#3 – Compare Past With Present
Compare their current abilities with your recollections of last year. Have any habits changed? Mark your calendar to look back and regularly assess the situation every six months.
#4 – Connect The Dots
If your senior seems to still do all the same things they did a year ago, then you may not need to change anything. However, if they move around with less comfort and frequency, think about the potential consequences. For example, do they forgo trips to the kitchen? If so, they may not drink enough liquids or eat fresh foods filled with vitamins and minerals and instead opt for less nutritious prepared foods. Low fluid intake combined with less physical activity and poor nutrition can lead to constipation, nausea, weakness, and dizziness when standing. These in turn can lead to further inactivity and possibly even an injury due to falling. Solutions can include keeping more beverages within easy reach of your loved one’s favorite sitting location. You can also prepare salads and other healthy foods every couple of days. Refrigerate them in single serving containers so they can eat healthy even when they can no longer prepare their own meals.
In addition if your senior still lives alone or is left alone for long periods of time, the “Berg Balance Scale” test can help you decide if being alone is still a safe option.
If your senior can’t perform a 4 on all parts of the test, you may need to consider additional support. This list provides a number of suggestions you can use to help prevent a life changing fall.
The real goal is to determine what kinds of movements should be avoided. Knowing the physical limitations is key to knowing what kind of assistance is needed.
#5 – Honestly Assess Your Own Abilities
Are you getting enough rest to keep your immune system strong so you don’t get sick and transmit an avoidable illness from which your senior may have trouble recovering? Are you eating right and getting enough physical activity?
Is your balance and strength enough to support your senior, if he or she leans heavily on you or if they start to fall while you are helping them move around? There are exercises you can do in just a few minutes that help improve your balance, eyesight, and strength. Moderate exercise is also known to help reduce stress and increase energy.
#6 – Make Beneficial Changes
Sometimes small changes make a big difference. Things like better organizing the household items your senior uses, rescheduling activities, or having someone else provide assistance at key times, can make a big impact. Implement changes if you see they will keep everyone safer and healthier.
Providing Better Elderly Care
Since people are living longer, the caregiving generation for the elderly can often be middle aged or even older. So it’s always important to consider your own health and the ways in which you can strengthen it if you want to continue being able to provide care.
However, if you find that you simply can’t keep providing your senior’s care while properly taking care of yourself and all of your other responsibilities, it may be time to explore creative and affordable ways to get some help before you’re completely worn out. Home and Hearth Caregivers provides personal care services that are a perfect fit for you home care needs.
Everyone wants to feel that their lives have meaning. Our caregivers find that meaning through helping people like you and your older family members. Contact us for more information on how home care might be the right next step for you.