By Jacob Edward
As Americans, we tend to forget that care giving has existed for almost as long as humans have been around. Recently, with the recession in 2008, more people are living in multigenerational homes. In many other countries, multigenerational living is the norm, but for us we’re still working out the kinks. Maybe you became a caregiver gradually, or maybe you were forced into the position by a sudden medical emergency with an older parent or in-law, whatever the case, here are some quick tips to ease you into care giving duties.
Create a Schedule:
Some people find it easier to cope with their new care giving job by writing down a schedule directing them in their daily duties. A schedule could include which pills to take, which activities to do, or dietary planning. Research has shown that mind stimulating activities can help people stay healthy longer. The schedule could be hour by hour or portioned off into morning, day, and night. Set goals you want to complete each day and you’ll see you’ll become much less frustrated with your loved one. Older people still need to be treated with the same respect they have received throughout their adult lives. Frustration often leads to them feeling as if they are being reduced to the state of a child because of their mental or physical decline. If you are working and care giving, make sure to talk to your employer about flexible hours and possible leave in case an emergency strikes. Creating a schedule is especially helpful in reminding you to constantly monitor and note your loved one’s health changes. Early detection, rather than negligence, can often prevent much larger problems down the road. Also, a schedule can minimize daily changes which are oftentimes upsetting to elderly people suffering health conditions.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions:
If you are unsure about something, say the level of care your charge may require, don’t hesitate to contact their doctor. Also, you can ask the patients themselves whether or not they feel you are doing an adequate job. Most times, people are caring for aging relatives so even though you are in each other’s lives in a different way now; don’t forget the familiarity you’ve always shared with them. If you have very specific concerns, however, don’t hesitate to call a social worker or a care giving professional.
Fall-proof the home:
You may be moving into their house or they may be moving into yours, but whatever the case, it’s important to fall proof the home to avoid falls. Make sure there are no worn or loose carpets, no exposed cords, and no clutter. Maintaining a clean environment is not only important for peace of mind, but can also benefit the patient greatly if they are still able to walk on their own. Also, install handle bars in the entrance to the shower, non-slip mats on any floors that tend to get wet or slippery, and adequate lighting throughout the house. Dim areas, especially for someone who can’t see very well, can prove to be dangerous. If you regularly leave the house for any extended periods of time, you may want to purchase a medical alert so your loved one can alert the authorities if they do happen to have an accident. Falls, especially when not dealt with quickly, can mean the quick demise of a person.
Know when it is time to make the transition into assisted living:
We like to think we can do it all, but sometimes caring for a loved one just becomes too much.
If your loved one has dementia, especially in a more advanced case, and they begin to wander, it’s time to get help. You’d never leave a child unattended around a swimming pool, and similarly, people who begin to wander need constant supervision. Even a quick trip to the bathroom or a shower taken by the caregiver can prove to be dangerous for an elderly person who wanders. The chance of injury increases greatly. Once it becomes unsafe for the person being taking care of to remain in their home, it’s time for assisted living
Find a Support Group:
If your duties do become overwhelming, there are support groups online with other people going through the same things as you. Support groups can be tremendously beneficial not only in relieving your stress, but in answering questions you may have about your new role. Care giving can be extremely rewarding for both parties involved and many people find that taking care of a loved one boosts their own value and self esteem.
Jacob Edward is the manager of Senior Planning and Prime Medical in Phoenix Arizona. Jacob founded both companies in 2007 and has helped many seniors navigate the different types of care available in Arizona. This includes assistance to seniors and the disabled, finding and arranging care services, and applying for state and federal benefits. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys dining out and supporting his alma mater Arizona State's Sun Devil sports teams. Jacob lives in Tempe Arizona.