If you are responsible for caring for an aging parent or other relative, you'll know that it can be a stressful experience. Not only is elder care a mentally and emotionally taxing responsibility, it can be physically difficult if your loved one has mobility issues. If you are taking care of someone who is elderly, here are some tips to make elder care a little easier on you both.
Consider changing personal boundaries
You may feel embarrassed asking your parent if they need help using the toilet or bathing, and they probably feel just as embarrassed asking for help, but it will make things much easier if you can discuss these freely. This will allow you to better meet their needs and keep them safe from dangers such as slips and falls in the bathroom. There are some tools available to make bathing and using the toilet much easier for those with limited mobility, such as safety hand rails and bath chairs. These can also help elderly people retain some personal independence for longer.
Offer safe opportunities for independence
No one wants to take away their aging parent's independence, but some activities simply become too dangerous for elderly people to manage. Try to offer safe opportunities for your loved one to be independent whenever possible. You may have to take away their car keys as their vision and reflexes fade, but you can offer them alternatives. Public transportation and community transport options allow your parent to remain independent without putting themselves, and others, at risk.
To make the transition easier, talk about it before it becomes an issue. Having a plan in place can help your relative transition to a lack of a vehicle much easier for both of you. Also, don't forget to consider any mobility issues your relative may have. If they have problems walking long distances, having transportation could seem like a moot point, since they could have problems getting around once they've reached their destination. Mobility devices such as motorized carts and scooters can help with this, so they can continue to be active and enjoy activities such as shopping or just getting "out and about."
Make small changes
Often, small changes can make a big impact in the life of an aging relative. Changing out hard-to-turn knobs on cabinets and doors can make it easier for your loved one to open them. Removing tripping hazards such as rugs and power cords can make getting around the house safer, and adding night lights to help elderly eyes navigate more safely at night are all small ways to keep your loved ones safe, and provide you with peace of mind, as can the addition of a stair lift through a place like http://www.twincitystairlifts.com.
Ask for help when you need it
If you are the sole caregiver for an elderly relative, it can become overwhelming very quickly, especially if your relative has serious health or mobility issues. If you don't have another relative or friend that you can turn to, consider hiring in home health assistance for one or more days each week. You may qualify for financial assistance in order to care for your loved one, or be able to access your relative's money in order to make caring for them a little easier.
Take time for yourself
Taking care of someone else can wear you down mentally and physically, especially if you are reversing roles and caring for the person who once took care of you. Accept that you need time for yourself to de-stress and recharge your own batteries, so you can better meet your loved one's needs. If you are constantly under stress, you will also be more susceptible to illness, and you can't take care of someone else if you are sick. Even a few hours each week can make a huge difference to your stress levels, so make sure to make time for your own needs.
Caregiving is never easy, especially if you are the primary caregiver of an aging relative. Be patient with them, and yourself, and use every aid at your disposal to make looking after your elderly relative a little easier for you both.