Nothing is more fulfilling than taking care of your own parents when they are ill. It is a time for bonding and also self discovery of your own strengths. However, your strengths will reach its limit.Your parents’ health could deteriorate in which you will need professional help to care for them 24/7. Deep down, you know that a nursing home is the answer but you hesitate to look for one.
“How can I do this to them? How can I send them to a home? I would break their heart. What would people think? That I am an ungrateful child?”
Let me tell you something from my own experience…
Nothing will ever prepare you when the time comes to caring for your parents. I used to think that it wouldn’t be so hard.
Boy! Was I so wrong!
It takes a toll on you from many different aspects : financially, emotionally, physically and mentally. Your parents will turn into “children” that you need to parent and this I speak from my own experience.
If you would like to read my personal story, please click this link My story : The unintended journey
We are in an age where communication has reached a culminating point. A friend or family member residing on the other side of the earth can be communicated via the internet or phone in matters of seconds. Despite this advancement in technology, research shows that ours is a society, lonelier than what it used to be before. Findings from studies carried out on the elderly, show that this age group is the loneliest than all the other age groups.
A few findings from American studies that focused on loneliness in the elderly are as follows:
- Eighteen percent of senior citizens in America live lonely and 43% of senior citizens feel lonely on a regular basis.
- There is a 45% increase in the risk of death among people aged 60 years or older who feel lonely, while isolated elders have a 59% increased risk of mental and physical decline compared to those elderly who socialize.
- One in 7 people with Alzheimer’s disease live alone.
- The most startling of findings was that two-thirds of older adults in America who felt lonely were either married or living with a partner.
A word that changed my life forever and threw me into a role that I was totally unprepared for – being a caregiver.
A brief history about myself. I am an only child. My father was a pharmacist and my mother, a nurse. Our life as a family was pretty simple and happy. We did things like other families did : going to church, weekend outings and what not. I did well in school and graduated as a chemical engineer. However, after a short stint as an engineer, I didn’t like the job. It wasn’t the right fit for me. I changed my path into the pharmaceutical industry and worked my way up to middle management. Finances was good and I decided to further on my studies while working. I took up MBA so that it would give me the extra edge to move on up the corporate ladder. Being single, I had the advantage of not having much to worry about.I had a certain lavish lifestyle which I enjoyed. My path was clear and I never once thought about the health of my parents.Why should I? In my mind, they would always be there and enjoy my successes. They won’t fall terribly sick. They will live until they are a 100 years old. Naive thinking, indeed.
As people get older, one of the important aspects is to continue choosing healthy foods and enjoying eating as a social activity. For people of all ages, especially the elderly, nutritional requirement is a must. Imbalance of nutrition in the elderly can occur due to either an excess or lack of nutrient consumption. This lack or excess consumption of nutrients is called malnutrition.
Malnutrition is increasingly becoming a very common health problem among the elderly population. Unfortunately, it has not received the importance it deserves.
Malnutrition can negatively impact the health of the elderly and hence, it is an important to address and resolve it as soon as it is identified. The negative impact of malnutrition include illness such as increased infection, electrolyte imbalances, altered skin integrity, anaemia, weakness, fatigue, longer stays in hospital, inability to perform regular activities, physical complications and death
Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss are the main signs of malnutrition. Other signs may include dull and dry hair, dryness of the eye, receding gums, mental confusion, sensory loss and motor weakness. Malnutrition is prevalent in 5-10% of elderly people, majority of whom are hospitalised (about 60%) or long-term care facilities (35-85%) [Furman, 2006].