Tips to care for the elderly at home

by Angie on

caregiver and seniorYour parent is in the hospital and will be returning home soon. You have taken the decision to be the caregiver. But, you are absolutely clueless about being a caregiver and do not know what to prepare for your parent’s arrival from the hospital. This is a familiar scenario, isn’t it?

Through the following steps, I will guide you with the necessary preparations to be taken in your home for your loved one and on tips in being their caregiver.

Before you begin your role as a caregiver, it is essential to meet your parent’s doctor and discuss about their medical condition and medications to be given in detail and also on the needs and level of independence. It would be a great idea to jot down everything down from your discussion in a notebook as a personal reference.

One of the important role as a caregiver is to provide regular follow-ups which can be marked on wall calendars wherein all the appointments is marked. It is best to be done in duplicates, one placed in your parent’s room and another with you, preferably in the kitchen or your own bedroom where it is easy for you access regularly.

notebookImportant information must be recorded in a notebook. This comes in handy when someone else takes your parent for the appointment in your absence. The important information that are essential to record are:

  • List of the illnesses that your parent may have suffered before the appointment and the relevant medications prescribed.
  • Diet schedules, exercise routine
  • Personal patient information (this includes date of birth and details of hospitalization)
  • Other information such as:
    • Contact details of the doctor and the pharmacy
    • Contact details of the mobility vehicle and ambulance.
    • Banking information, lawyer’s contact number (if necessary) and
    • List of any  recurring bills that would need to be paid.

Some essential things that should be prepared for regular use:

  1. Pill boxes – Should be regularly filled with the necessary medications.Pill box
  2. Personal things such as sip cups (for water), shower scrub brush and comfortable footwear beigetartan
  3. Baby monitor (if you have it at home) or alarms (for the elderly to alert you when needed) baby-monitor

When you prepare your home for your loved one’s arrival, there are 2 things that should be in your mind at all times: safety and independence.

 Silvert's Disabled Clothing for Elderly Care

Safety around the home

The elderly are very vulnerable to falls and accidents. Therefore, safety is something that cannot be taken for granted. Always look around the house to “senior proof” it (which is my way of saying child proof the house). Little things that you may take for granted may be an accident waiting to happen.

    1. Always de-clutter all pathways around the house and rearrange the furniture so that the elderly can move around easily without tripping on anything
    2. Have handle bars or railings in key areas such as the staircase, bed room and the bathroom so that it can ease the elderly’s movement within these areas.Bed rail
    3. Ensure that you have a raised toilet seat so that it would be easier for them to sit down on and get up from the toilet. Depending on the level of their independence, you can decide whether you would like to attach a riser or a rail to the toilet.
    4. There are special chairs available that is specially made to be used in the shower. Its legs will have a suction cup at the bottom so that it does not slip. It is advisable to have one so that they can sit comfortably and take a shower without falling down.Adjustable lightweight shower chair
    5. Please ensure you get rid of all throw rugs from the house. Throw rugs are slippery and can cause an avoidable fall. Replace them with mats which has suction cups at the bottom. This is especially crucial in the bathroom area.
    6. To avoid glares, please use frosted bulbs especially in their room and along the corridor in your house.
    7. This is something which is always taken for granted. The rubber tips of their cane or walker. Replace the rubber tips if worn out. This will ensure a good grip to the ground and avoid any potential fall.

 

Encouraging Independenceindependence

When your elderly loved one comes over to stay in your home, it is natural for you as a caregiver to be overly protective. Being protective as their “parent” is a good thing but it should not stifle their independence. Always encourage them to be independent based on their level of independence. Bear in mind, that most of them may be depressed due to their restricted movement or their medical condition. There is a tendency for them to avoid socializing all together. They might think that being a hermit might be a “cool” thing to be. This behavior should not be encouraged. It will only make matters worse for them and for you as a caregiver in the long run. For example, if they are able to walk with a walker, encourage them to take walks, together with you, around the neighborhood or the garden, so that they can meet others who may be of their age. If they are bed bound, encourage them to do little activities such as a crossword puzzle, Sudoku, read books on Kindle or the iPad, listening to audio books, knitting, crochet, anything within their capacity. All these activities should be done together with you, your family members or their friends.fun-in-elderly-resident

Special note to the caregiver

Remember that as a caregiver, you need to have breaks as well. It is an absolute MUST! Caring for your elderly can take a huge toll on your health physically and mentally. Ask around about homecare services or even about day care centres. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and you need not feel guilty about it. Let the homecare services take over from you for a few hours, taking the elderly to a doctor’s appointment or just to the mall, allow someone else to take over. From my own experience, that couple of hours would do wonders for you.

Remember that, you do not have to be perfect in everything in terms of caring for your elderly loved one. Just give it your best, the best way you know how. Be prepared to face unpleasant emotions from them as they are going through a lot and most of the time, they have trouble grasping it themselves. Hence, the may portray bad moods. Do not worry, just as there are bad days, there are always good days that follow within the week. It may be a good idea to note these behavioral and emotional changes and its trigger factors. Discuss these with their doctor during the next appointment. It would help the doctor access the severity of the disease at hand. This is especially true for those suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, and stroke patients.

If after sometime, their condition worsens and they require more care, ask around about assisted living or even hospice (this really depends on the situation). Never feel guilty about having this option. Sometimes, they may require special nursing care at a specialized center, which may be something that you cannot provide. Ensure you and your family visit them often and do activities together with them. It will definitely brighten up their day.

Caring for your elderly is a rewarding experience for you as a caregiver. Nothing brings you closer to them and at the same time discover yourself in the process. Proper preparation would take away most of the anxiety associated with caring for the senior population. Support is key and ask for it from your family, friends, home care services church, etc. You will need all the help that you can get.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or leave your question in the comment box below. I would be happy to assist you.

Written by: Angie

8 Comments

rina

Dear Angie, thanks to your comprehensive guide on taking care of elderly at home. While at the moment I don’t have to do it (thanks God my parents are still pretty healthy in their 60s), I personally know how true your tips are, because my mother is currently taking care two of her elder sisters (in 80s, and one of them has difficulty to walk). I truly agree that we need to encourage independence (if at all possible) and socialize with others.
The problem we have now is my great aunt was a high-profile lady (during her golden age) and was very stubborn about certain things. Our extended family dislikes this part of her personality and as the result only a few of them visit her regularly, which was pretty sad fact. What can I do to encourage others to visit her? I know that she feels pretty lonely. Only my mother visits her frequently. And she doesn’t have kids, though she took care some of her younger siblings just like her own children (this, including my mother).

Reply
Angie

Dear Rina, I can understand your predicament about your great aunt. She sounds exactly like my father and unfortunately, no one likes to visit him. It is certainly difficult to see such things because for us, as caregivers, we know that they would like company and they do feel lonely 🙂

Firstly, her personality ,which she has built being a high profiled lady during her career days, can’t be changed. She is so used to it and to advice her to change would be futile. Let her be. What can be done to make things better is to work around it. Both your mother and you can start taking down notes on things that make her lose her temper. Basically, finding out what triggers her off. Next, on her stubbornness, jot down on how she wants things to be and follow exactly according to her wishes, in order to restore peace around the home. I am sure when she is stubborn about something, the words which she utters out may not be pleasant and it hurts. Unfortunately, this is very common with most elderly. You have not stated if she has any underlying disease. At times, her own discomfort with her disease can cause her to be more stubborn than usual.

How your extended family is reacting to her is, unfortunately, is very normal. They have a certain vision/ mental picture of your great aunt during her prime and seeing her now with her “personality” would be a turn off. They may not have come to terms in their mind that she is aging and would not have understanding of it.

What both your mother and you can do is “educate” your extended family with the information that you have jotted down. Try explaining to them about her medical condition ( if she has any) and alert them on the RED ZONES ( meaning topics or things never to discuss, remember trigger factors? ). Most importantly, please tell them to be patient and just ignore whatever that they have encountered with her. This will help.Not everyone in your extended family will understand it but some would. At least , there will be a few more visitors for her. This method I have tried personally for my father and from having no one visiting him, there are now a couple of relatives who visits him occasionally now.

Oh yes! Children! If your great aunt loves children, bring them to her ( can be your own kids or children that she is already familiar with) . She will have a natural glow and a smile on her face once she sees them. Make a memory of it by taking a photo of your great aunt with the children. Send the photo to your extended family via Whatsapp or Facebook, to show the loving side of your great aunt. At times, people tend to focus on all the negative things about a person and forget about the positives. This is a subtle reminder to them about the nicer side of your aunt. Things will slowly change for the better.

I hope that this is helpful, Rina. Please do give it a try. Remember, the elderly are very much like children with their moods and tantrums. Patience is crucial ( I know it at times can be very tough, just hang in there)

If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask away. 🙂 I would be happy to assist you.

Angie

Reply
Nicole JBN

Hi there,

this is a very informative article about caregiving. I took care of my mother for the last 5 years of her life and it is a life changing situation for both, the elderly and the caregiver.

Preparations are good and I also encourage everyone facing a similar situation to prepare. It will make things so much easier. I don’t have much else to add to your article other than I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Just one thing I really like to point out, too. Don’t go through all this alone. Get help because you need to take a time out to keep your wits. I refused help because I felt guilty. I refused help because I thought that nobody but myself is capable of caring for my mom.

Don’t let these thoughts put a fog in your mind. Take any help you can get, put things in the hand of others for a day. It does help and it won’t harm your mom or any other person you take care of. 🙂

All the best,
Nicole

Reply
Angie

Thank you so much for your sharing, Nicole. Hugs. 🙂

Spot on, Nicole! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I totally understand about the guilt. What you shared on how ” I thought that nobody but myself is capable of caring for my mom” , rings very true. I was walking in it a few years back with those same exact thoughts.I went about it alone and in the end, I paid a price, health wise, for being a “superwoman”. In hindsight,perhaps I could have done better with my late mom, by taking someone’s help. Now, with my dad , I know better. HELP is a GOOD thing. All help are welcome! 🙂

Reply
Michael

My father went through a very hard point of terrible health issues leaving him needing full care from someone else and is slowly getting through it. My mother is the full time care giver but we (her children) try to help as much as possible. It is hard with 4 kids, work, house ect but you have no choice. I really wish I had come across your site when he was in the hospital to perpare for him coming home. We just dealt with everything as it came up not really thinking ahead.

Also good point about having two copies of his health information, you could take it one step further and have 3 so he can have one copy. I felt bad that we just made decision, talked to doctors and spoke to each other about the issues without really talking to him becuase he was not well enough but you don’t want to just forget that there is a person there and you should inculde them.

Reply
Angie

Hi Michael,

Apologies on the late reply. So sorry to hear about your dad and your current situation. I do understand how it is to be in your shoes. There are just not enough sites out there with simple and practical knowledge on taking care of our parents. I still remember the struggle and frustration in gaining valuable information so that I can give the best care.
I love your suggestion! Thank you so much for pointing it out. Keeping 3 copies is a good thing. It is best that the patient be able to make health decisions for themselves or in discussion with the family if they are able to. With my late mom, I did the same thing, discussed everything with the Dr without consulting her or rather “ignoring” her. I felt really bad about it after everything. In hindsight, we do what we do because we love them.
Always remember Michael, your dad is now your “child”.
God Bless
-Angie-

Reply
Cathy

Hi there Angie, these are some great items to go through since I am already caring for both my parents who are in their 60’s and 70’s.

In one of the products, you mentioned comfortable footwear. The image shows shoes that can be ‘opened’ in flaps. I’ve never seen anything like that. What are those and how do you use them? Thanks.

Reply
Angie

Hi Cathy. Those are slip on shoes . It is made specially for the elderly. All they have to do is to place their feet in and close the flaps to fit their feet as snug as possible. This is great especially with a person with arthritis or for anyone who constantly have leg swelling/ edema. There’s another type of footwear which is designed to be suitable for diabetics and it helps to prevent a diabetic from having any wounds on their leg ( this is common in a diabetic). Here’s a link for these specialised shoes.

https://www.silverts.com/show.php/list/men/footwea….

Hope this helps. 🙂

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*