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Originally Posted On: How To Look After An Elderly Relative – The Healthy Voyager
Taking great care of an elderly relative can be such a rewarding experience. They’re sure to appreciate every single thing that you do to improve their quality of life, and you’ll be able to build a strong relationship that you can treasure for years to come. Looking after an elderly relative needn’t be as difficult as you might expect, as there are just a few key areas in which you must focus your efforts to ensure they can feel comfortable and content for as long as possible. So, if you would like to find out more about how you can take care of your elderly relative in the best way, then read on to uncover some amazing tips and tricks that you can make the most of today!
Ensure They Eat A Balanced Diet
One of the most important steps that you can follow to ensure your elderly relative can lead a healthy life is to ensure they eat a balanced diet. As you age, your eating habits can change dramatically – many people find that they lose their appetite and eat very little, whilst others may experience an increase in hunger that leads to constant grazing. Finding a happy medium between these two extremes will make sure your elderly relative can maintain a normal BMI, which is essential for long term wellbeing when you reach a certain age. Being both underweight and overweight can encourage a variety of health issues to take hold, so there’s no time like the present for you to step in and show them how to eat well. A natural whole foods diet that’s made up of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables is the best option to pursue, but make sure you take any intolerances or allergies into consideration to ensure they don’t fall victim to an adverse reaction. If they are still independent and can cook for themselves, take them to the grocery store on a weekly basis to stock up on healthy ingredients like brown pasta, rice and bread, fresh salad and steaming vegetables like broccoli, as well as snacking fruit like bananas and peaches. You can find a wide variety of recipes online that are made specifically to suit the elderly, such as those that take less than 5 minutes to prepare to avoid having to stand up for too long. If your elderly relative isn’t quite independent enough to cook their own meals from scratch, it’s a brilliant idea to get in contact with a food delivery service that can bring pre prepared meals directly to their door. There are many ‘meals on wheels’ services in existence that your elderly relative can trial, as it’s important that they actually enjoy the taste of the food and approve of the quality.
Adapt Their Home To Improve Their Independence
One great difficulty of aging is losing your independence, as things like mobility, sight and hearing can all take a hit. A great way to combat this issue is to make several adaptations to their home to allow them to live without the need for any outside help! It’s so easy to implement a few handy improvements, and it’s best to assess each room individually to make sure you don’t miss anything important. The bathroom is likely to be the space that requires the most adaptation, as there are many different risk factors that can put them in harm’s way. Start off by installing a pull down chair inside their shower cubicle that allows them to sit down, as well as some grab bars at waist height that they can use to stand up safely. Getting in the shower can be a real hazard when your mobility decreases, as it’s easy to slip and lose your balance which could lead to anything from a nasty bruise to several broken bones! Grab bars can also be installed around the toilet to ensure they can sit and stand up without the need for further assistance. If they struggle to walk all the way to their bathroom several times a day, it may be beneficial to purchase a commode that they can use in the living room or bedroom nearby. When it comes to adapting their bedroom, consider investing in a remote controlled rising bed that lifts them to their feet, as it can be a real struggle to climb up from laying down. It’s a good idea to install further grab bars in high traffic areas such as corridors, as they can utilise these to stay mobile and walk around the house independently. If they live in a property that spans over several floors, it may be beneficial to invest in a stair lift that they can sit down on to travel from one level to the next without the risk of tripping and falling down the stairs. Keeping a higher chair inside the kitchen will allow them to prepare meals and drinks at the counter without having to stand up for long periods of time!
Book & Keep Track Of Healthcare Appointments
Unfortunately it’s common for aspects of mental health like memory to get much worse as you age, and this can have an effect on your physical health as you may forget to take medication or attend doctors appointments. Taking on the responsibility of booking and keeping track of your elderly relatives healthcare appointments can help them to maintain optimum wellbeing, and attending these appointments to listen to the advice offered will ensure they can keep up with the recommended aftercare. You can easily set yourself as the point of reference for your elderly relative to monitor their healthcare commitments, as it’s not a good idea to allow their doctor to call them directly to discuss anything important if they suffer from something like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Encourage Them To Stay Socially Active
Living alone as an elderly person can be extremely isolating, as it can be hard to get out and meet people when you don’t have faith in your mobility or may get lost and forget your home address. Encouraging your elderly relative to stay socially active with your assistance will help them to stay motivated, as meeting people will often be the highlight of their day. Whether you choose to take them out for a coffee date and a slice of cake or arrange a family get together with a few familiar faces, any social event will be a glorious experience that they will continue to think about until they get out again. It’s also a great idea to enlist them in some kind of hobby or regular event schedule that allows them to engage with people their own age in a safe environment. There are so many community centres that offer arts and crafts like knitting and painting for the elderly, and this can be a great way for them to get a little creative and enjoy themselves without a care in the world.
Recognise A Need For Full Time Care Or Companionship
Though they may wish to continue living in their home for as long as possible, it’s essential that you can recognise and accommodate a need for full time care or companionship. Failing to acknowledge the necessity of proper care and attention could cause your elderly relatives physical and mental health to get worse, as sometimes it’s far better to let them move into sheltered accommodation for the sake of their wellbeing. If they’re still fairly mobile and wish to move to a more community focused environment with others their own age, a tailor made village like La Posada could be the perfect option. They have specially crafted homes that have been designed with the elderly in mind, as well as a whole host of shops, services and amenities that can help them to maintain the best quality of life. If your elderly relatives mental or physical health is more of an issue, it’s probably best to seek out more sheltered living in which they can be accompanied by a nurse for 24 hours of the day. Having constant access to health checks and professional care will help to make sure they can be as comfortable and content as possible, despite any conditions that they suffer from. Make sure that you take some time to look around to find the best provider, as unfortunately some locations may mistreat their patients or provide a very low level of care. Read reviews left by families who have utilised the service to get a better idea of what the staff are really like, and don’t be afraid to request a visit to see for yourself before signing any contracts.
Looking after an elderly relative to the best of your ability has never been so simple when you can take the time to make the most of the brilliant tips and tricks that have been carefully detailed above. They’re sure to appreciate the hard work that you put in to keep them comfortable!