Aging is a natural part of a person’s life process. Unfortunately, not all elderlies have the capacity or privilege to live by themselves at this point in their lives. They may need someone to look after them to ensure their safety as they go about their daily routines.
Seniors can always tell you that they’re strong as a rock, but chances are they’ll still need your guidance every now and then, especially if they’re also dealing with body pains or other illnesses. After all, old age is usually associated with brittle bones, poorer hearing and eyesight, lapsing memory, and decreased mobility.
In such situations, they’re better off living in a senior home or under the care of a concerned relative. While you may have a commendable amount of patience to get the job done, admittedly, the care process can still take a toll on you, especially if you aren’t completely sure about what you’re supposed to do.
What Are The Notable Challenges Of Senior Care?
Proper elderly care involves the assessment of a variety of factors to come up with a program that’s tailored for the senior’s unique demands. Not all seniors will be able to live through their old age in the same manner, that’s why it’s important to learn what their specific needs are.
Hence, to ensure that you can help your elderly loved one in the best way possible, it’s worth learning about the challenges of providing senior care. Some common issues include:
Having to look after a parent or in-law while you still have children at home can be really tough, especially if not everyone is able to get along. While it can be a fun experience if you’re a close-knit unit, unfortunately, not all families have the same perks.
Now that you’re responsible for more people in the house, multitasking can be tiring, and it will increasingly become more difficult to take a break. Thus, you’ll have to figure out how to handle caregiver’s fatigue to minimize the chances of burnout.
- Financial Repercussions
Letting your elderly loved one move into your home can also have significant financial repercussions. You may not feel the difference as much if your senior is relatively healthy, but if they have a number of special health concerns, the expenses can quickly add up.
You may also need to take days off from work or even give up work completely if they require intensive care and they have no one else to rely on. Yes, it’s a great thing that you’re willing to step up and be there for your senior loved one, but you must also prepare for it financially to avoid the mental strains that are associated with scarce resources.
- Stubbornness Associated With Old Age
The stereotype “old people are difficult” reflects what adult children have to deal with when talking to their senior parents. Older adults tend to be too set in their ways that they may resist what you’re saying, even if it will objectively make things more convenient for them.
- Senior Health Issues
Declining health is one of the main reasons why people suddenly have to take care of their senior loved ones. These health issues can be physical, mental, or both. Since these kinds of seniors lose the ability to take care of themselves, their children need to bring them in to support them.
For instance, if your loved one needs to undergo physical therapy for their body pains, both of you will have to decide between home physical therapy versus standard physical therapy based on your senior’s current condition and abilities.
- Losing Independence
If a senior has lived by themselves for a long time before moving into your house, it can be pretty tough for them to give up their independence. This is especially true if they’re too proud to accept help, even when they practically need it.
Additionally, they might initially resist the idea of staying at your place because they don’t want to give you more things to worry about. Thus, it’s essential that you lay out all the plans properly so that both of you can become aware of what you need to compromise on.
Striving For Interactive Caregiving
Regularly keeping an eye on your senior loved one can be a daunting task. If you haven’t done your research beforehand, things can get unpredictable pretty quickly and may even cause some friction in your relationship.
At its worst, it can break your spirits because of the physical, social, mental, emotional, and even financial demands of 24/7 care. However, it can also be among the most fulfilling experiences that you’ll ever share with them.
To ensure that both you and your senior loved one will continue having fun times together, it’s important to focus on interactive caregiving, a form of senior care that encourages the maintenance of overall health, including social and mental aspects. Its philosophy values the individual as a whole, allowing the senior to continue leading a fruitful and independent life, even when they require assistance sometimes.
As a new caregiver for a senior, you’ll need to acknowledge that caregiving goes beyond helping with practical tasks. It also involves finding ways to keep them happy and engaged.
In order to create a sound plan for interactive caregiving, you’ll need to have a thorough discussion with your senior loved one and ask about their interests. Then, create a schedule that they can easily remember.
It’s easy to get carried away with planning and scheduling, but bear in mind that your plans should be about the senior, and not what you think would be fun for them. Hence, prioritize what they like to do, and, perhaps, you can invite them to try something new with you from time to time.
Remember, this is a big change in your senior loved one’s life, and, understandably, transitions can be difficult to go through. Here are some ways to help you properly communicate your thoughts and suggestions to them:
- Be open and flexible in the way you talk to them. Make sure they feel safe about expressing their thoughts and feelings.
- Give them the space and time to think some decisions over by themselves.
- Always put yourself in their shoes. A little empathy goes a long way in successful senior care.
- Don’t show them that you feel sorry for them. Yes, it might be true that they’re under sorry conditions right now, but showing pity only makes them feel useless.
Of course, it’s just natural for you to feel worried about your elderly loved one, especially if they have had previous accidents or falls. In any case, an open line of communication will usually reveal your mutual fears and help both of you address them.
How Can You Ensure That Your Senior Ward Remains Independent?
Once you’re aware of the common issues faced by senior caregivers and the ways to provide interactive care, you’re almost ready to perform your duty to your elderly loved one. Naturally, you may encounter some learning curves, but if you stick to the basics and to the things that matter most to your senior, you’ll be good to go.
Listed below are seven tips that can help you encourage your senior loved one to bask in their independence:
- Schedule Days For Socialization
Life as a healthy senior can get boring pretty quickly if there’s a resounding lack of social stimulation. Additionally, it can make them feel a bit too lonely, especially when they’re not able to keep in touch with their friends as much as they used to.
Thus, it’s recommended to set up a schedule for socialization. This will encourage your senior to still maintain their individuality in the presence of a friend or a group that they trust.
- Prioritize Health And Safety
Make sure that you know exactly what your loved one’s health needs are so that you’ll be well-equipped to care for them. List down their necessary medications and take note of the schedules of their doctor’s appointments, if any. Also, store their doctor’s contact information in your phone just in case there are emergencies.
This doesn’t only reduce the fears of not knowing what to do on your part, but it will also reduce your senior’s anxieties and allow them to live on as normally as possible, knowing that they can count on you should their life be on the line.
- Make Important Items Easily Accessible
Write down a list of items that your senior needs to access on a regular basis. This usually includes clothes, meds, and other personal items that they like using. Then, make sure that you store those items in a place where they can easily see and access them whenever they need to.
- Establish Boundaries
Since you’ll be the one taking care of your senior loved one and you practically own the house they’re now living in, you may be tempted to assert that they should abide by your rules. While that sounds logical, your loved one still has a mind of their own, and rules will be better followed if they are made by both of you.
Remember, mutual respect is key in making sure that your interactions remain as frictionless as possible. If you establish your boundaries together, you’ll have a better chance of not ever crossing each other’s lines. Then, they’ll have more freedom to decide on the things they want to do as they consider what’s okay under your roof.
- Make Your Home “Senior-Proof”
Now that a senior will be living with you, you’ll have to transform your home into something that’s “senior-proof”. This involves allowing better mobility and minimizing hazards.
For instance, installing grab bars in the shower and toilet can greatly reduce falls and accidents, as well as adding non-skid pads in various places in the house. Additionally, small night lights at various spots can help ensure that your senior will find their way if they need to go to the kitchen or the bathroom at night.
Ideally, you should place your senior’s bedroom on the first floor, but if it’s located upstairs, installing a stair lift can make house roaming more convenient on their part.
- Encourage The Use Of Technology
These days, smart gadgets, like Amazon’s Alexa devices and Google Home, can now be installed to accomplish tasks just by using voice commands. By speaking to the device, you can do various things, such as play music, make phone calls, check the weather, and operate your smart TV.
Although seniors may be a little hesitant about them at first, encourage them to give it a try and, soon enough, they’ll likely have a fun time playing with it. This will give them a sense of achievement, knowing that they’ve learned how to operate it independently.
- Let Them Do Fun Activities
What does your senior like to do for fun? Do they like reading books, solving crossword puzzles, or having tea with some friends? Do they want to go to dance class and meet new people? Do they like going for a morning walk every day, or tending to flowers in the garden?
Whatever the case may be, set up a simple schedule of activities with them to help them feel like they’re actually living their own life–something that they’re genuinely happy about.
Providing Independence To Your Elderly Loved One Shouldn’t Have To Be Difficult
Undeniably, caring for a senior citizen involves a lot of challenges, especially if you never had to live with any senior at home before. For instance, they can be really stubborn and inflexible with their preferences. If you’re not careful about how you handle things around the house, it can readily cause friction with those that they regularly interact with.
With the tips mentioned above, it should become a little bit easier to plan how you’re going to make senior caregiving fun and manageable for you and your senior loved one. By learning how to care for their needs without sacrificing yours, the whole process can be a fun journey that will allow you to collect fonder memories with them.
Updated: April 16, 2020