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Independent Living For Seniors: How To Take Care Of Your Loved Ones

What To Know

  • When it doesn't have to be such a burden to you, there's a higher likelihood that you'll be more than happy and willing to offer care and do your part for your senior family members.
  • As long as your senior family members can still take good care of themselves and stay safe in their homes, there's no need to move them to an assisted living facility or a senior care home.

Helping your parents in any possible way can be utterly fulfilling. Children aren’t required to do so, but given all the love and attention they’ve so unselfishly given you, it’s normal to feel the need to repay them for their support and care when they’re gray and old. Another reason is that their sunset years can have them feeling many emotions brought on by losing their independence, a lack of social life, or losing their sense of purpose.

For some, arrangements will be made for family members to move in back to their parents, or vice versa. But this isn’t always the case. Most elderly still prefer to stay where they’ve rooted their lives, which means independent living, but with the assistance of medical professionals like caregivers, nurses, and visiting physicians. While this presents new challenges for the family members, taking care of your senior loved ones is still possible.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for caring for your elderly loved ones while fostering healthy, independent living:

Arrange For The Needed Home Health Services 

As long as your senior family members can still take good care of themselves and stay safe in their homes, there’s no need to move them to an assisted living facility or a senior care home. Independence is essential to slowing down an elderly’s mental and cognitive decline, so it’s to their benefit to be in their own space. Moreover, there’s that feeling of comfort and ‘being at home’ that they won’t have elsewhere.

With that, it’s up to your family to arrange home health services to ensure your senior loved ones have the necessary medical care. Today, companies like Home Nursing With Heart are in the business of having medical professionals visit patients’ homes instead of the other way around.

Whether you need a round-the-clock carer or an on-call physician or nurse to help administer medicines, these are all available. When choosing a provider, however, be sure to prioritize service quality and reputation to ensure your loved one gets the highest and best care possible. Even in your physical absence, you can rest, knowing that your elderly family members obtain the medical services they need. In addition, if they need to get vitamins prescribed by the doctor, they can get Myer’s Cocktail delivered to them in the comfort of their home. This IV therapy includes vitamins and minerals that the elderly may need.

Divide The Responsibility With Other Family Members 

If you have siblings, schedule a family meeting regularly so you can work out the proper division of responsibilities, encompassing financial matters, visiting schedules, and other facets of caring for your senior loved ones. Dividing the responsibilities avoids burnout and exhaustion that affect one’s work-life balance.

The last thing you’d want when caring for the elderly is to feel like it’s a chore or something you must do. When it doesn’t have to be such a burden to you, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll be more than happy and willing to offer care and do your part for your senior family members.

Most importantly, sharing the tasks with every family member means someone is in charge at any given time. And, although they may not be physically there, the carers know who to call when needed.

For example, you’re off on a three-week holiday this month. Assign another sibling to be in charge for that period. That way, you can still enjoy your life without worrying too much about how your elderly family members are doing.

Schedule Regular Visits 

No matter how busy you may be, there’s always an opportunity to visit your senior loved ones. There’s no fixed number as to the frequency, as this would naturally depend on factors like your physical distance.

For example, those who live only a state or a few miles away from the elderly’s home can visit as frequently as every weekend. However, those who live in another country would have to make do with less-frequent visits, as the cost has to be factored in as well. What matters most is your effort to visit and spend time with your senior loved ones.

Remember that their emotional and mental well-being is as important as their physical health when caring for them. Because the kids have grown up and moved out of the family home, it’s normal to feel like they’ve lost a sense of purpose. From being extremely busy, with time moving at the speed of light, now time seems to be gradually slowing down, and they have very few activities scheduled for the day.

Spending time with your senior loved ones reinforces in their minds that they’re loved, valued, and cared for. In effect, it gives them that boost in their morale to keep going, regardless of the circumstances they’re in. When they talk, listen eagerly and give them your full attention. You’ll be surprised by how much wisdom you can gain from them. And who knows? That time you spend with your elderly loved ones might also just be that refresher you’ve long needed after those stressful days at work.

Check On Their Nutrition 

Even when your senior family members are still mobile and able to cook, this isn’t an assurance that they’ll be able to whip up healthy and nutritious meals every day. Because they live alone, it’s normal for them to have those days where the last thing on their minds would be to spend their time cooking. That makes seniors vulnerable to skipping meals or reaching for processed food.

That being said, arrange for the provision of healthy and easy meals for your senior family members. There are many ways to go about this, like hiring a cook. You may also subscribe to meal plan and delivery services tailored to the elderly’s specific nutritional needs.

Keep Them Involved In Decisions Surrounding Their Care 

In line with fostering independence, another important suggestion is to keep the elderly involved in the decisions surrounding their care. When they’re still mentally sharp, there’s no reason to decide on everything on their behalf, as doing so would only make them feel useless. They still have a voice, and more often than not, their reasoning could still make perfect sense.

As long as you’re confident that following their input is still to their benefit, give such a weight of importance. Further down the road, if mental decline happens fast, seniors will no longer be able to decide for themselves, and that’s when you come into the picture.

Keeping them involved gives seniors at least some level of control over their lives. If your loved one feels like their voice no longer matters, they’ll be more hesitant to listen to what you have to say. It’s easier to keep them cooperative when they also feel heard.

To do this, foster open communication where both ends are heard. For example, you can point out an area of difficulty the elderly may have, like cleaning their home. Then, instead of offering your preferred solution immediately, ask them first what they’d like.

Would they want an in-house carer, or would they rather have a cleaner come a few days a week? Better yet, if you live in the same town, perhaps you could come on the weekend too, to do some cleaning for them. Giving them options will make the elderly feel like the final say still lies with them.

Take Care Of Yourself 

You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you can’t expect to be able to care for your senior loved ones, too, no matter how much you want to. This is even more true when your schedule is filled with many other responsibilities. For instance, you have small kids who need your full attention and a full-time job to attend to. With how packed your days are, it can be quite difficult to find the time to breathe and recharge so you’d have the energy to provide for the needs of your elderly family members.

With that, don’t deprive yourself of self-care. This isn’t selfishness. You need it to give the best love and care to those around you, including the elderly. Self-care also prevents burnout, so you don’t wind up lashing up on the elderly when you’re exhausted or feel like you’re missing out.

If you must take a break, do so. Seek the help of your siblings or other family members. If you can’t visit your parents this week because your marriage is suffering, fix that one first so you don’t bring negative emotions to your senior family members.

The Bottomline 

When the time comes for you to start taking care of your elderly family members, it’s normal to feel quite daunted by this new responsibility. There’s no way to sugarcoat this: it won’t be easy. There’ll be challenges along the way, but once you’ve worked around those, the next few years will soon become your new way of life.

Sending an elderly loved one to a care home isn’t the only option, especially when you see that independence is still very much possible. When that’s the case, let them be. That independence will be good for them, too. Couple it with the care tips above, and you’ll undoubtedly offer the best quality of life for your beloved seniors in this season of their lives.

Medical Device News Magazine
Medical Device News Magazine provides breaking medical device / biotechnology news. Our subscribers include medical specialists, device industry executives, investors, and other allied health professionals, as well as patients who are interested in researching various medical devices. We hope you find value in our easy-to-read publication and its overall objectives! Medical Device News Magazine is a division of PTM Healthcare Marketing, Inc. Pauline T. Mayer is the managing editor.


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