It can be a difficult time when you notice an elderly parent or relative beginning to struggle with everyday tasks. Your parents looked after you when you were born, and it’s hard to deal with it when these roles reverse and you need to take care of them. If you’re struggling to take care of an elderly relative, here is a guide to help you know where to start and how to cope.
The first step in providing care for an elderly parent or relative will probably be carrying out odd jobs and everyday tasks that they may begin to struggle with. Later down the line, you may also need to provide more hands-on physical care.
Perhaps your parent has lost some mobility and it’s harder for them to get out and about; if so, consider performing basic daily jobs to help them live their life:
- Go to the store to buy them groceries.
- Cook meals that they can keep in the refrigerator and heat up in the microwave.
- Drive them wherever they need to go.
- Offer to take their dog for a walk.
Ask them what they need help with and work time into your day to do it. This could be anything from help with their finances to help cleaning the house.
Hands-On Personal Care
It’s also common for people with mobility issues to need help with more personal aspects of their daily lives.
Asking for help with personal hygiene, going to the toilet, and getting dressed can be humiliating, so it’s important that you treat them with respect and work to maintain their dignity at all times.
If this is too much for you to handle or you simply don’t have the time to provide the physical care your parent needs, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Excellent senior living facilities are available around the country, and if your parent requires daily assistance, an assisted living retirement community might be the best option. Talk it through with them to see what they want and need.
Getting older can be difficult emotionally. If your relative is starting to need more help in their life, they may feel depressed at their loss of independence, or they could feel anxious about their declining health. Loneliness and bereavement are also common causes of depression in seniors.
Encourage them to talk to you openly and honestly about how they feel, and remind them that it’s okay to ask for help with their mental health if they need it.
As well as mental health issues, a loss or reduction in cognitive function and memory is common in the elderly. If you notice that your parent is becoming more forgetful or is finding it difficult to grasp and understand things, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor to see what help is available.
Keeping an active social life is thought to help prevent Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia and can also reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Encouraging your parent to keep in touch with friends and other family members is one way you can help; another is keeping in regular contact yourself.
It’s not always easy taking care of a parent as they get older, but just try to do your best. Keep an eye on their health and talk to them regularly about how they’re feeling both physically and mentally. Often, the best way to help is simply by listening.