When children start to care for their elderly parents, they usually want to keep their mother or father at home for as long as possible. However, this isn’t always the best thing for the older person, as sometimes they will have complex medical needs such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. If it is possible, it is a lovely thing to do for as long as you can. Here are some ways that you can help an older adult stay at home for longer.
Know How Much Care Is Needed
It’s difficult to see the bigger picture sometimes when it comes to people we love, and whether the older person we are looking out for is a parent, another relative, or even just a friend, you may think that you can do everything that is required. It can sometimes lead to burn out, and your own health (physical, mental, and emotional) can be affected negatively. Therefore, you need to step back and assess what is really required. Can you do it all or is an outside helper going to be needed? Does the house need to be made safer for the older adult to be able to get around in more easily?
Another thing to think about is when the care is required. Is it all the time, 24 hours a day? In that case, a care home or medical facility may serve everyone better. Perhaps it’s only at night, or maybe it’s just to help to prepare meals. If this is the case, you can work out how to do this efficiently, meaning the person’s home remains a viable option. One option is to have them wear an ATC Alert medical alert pendant when there is no one else in the house with them.
No one can do everything without causing themselves some kind of harm, as mentioned above. This is why you need to be completely realistic about what kind of help you can give, and whether you are the right person to do it. You may love the older person more than anything, but does that mean you can care for them as they need to be cared for? Only do what you really can do and don’t try to do more than that or you will become unwell, and the person you are caring for will no longer have your help.
There are always going to be times when you will need extra help to ensure that your loved one is safe and well. You might be taking a well-earned vacation, or maybe you just need to go out to the store, whether it’s for a week or an hour, having someone who can help you is a good idea. It will reduce your workload and the stress you may be feeling.
The person helping might be a qualified care worker, or it could be a family member who is helping with their loved one. Use the person or people you and the person being cared for is most comfortable with.
Make Changes Around the Home
If you want your elderly friend or relative to be able to stay in their home for longer, you should be prepared to make changes around their home or have people come in to make those changes. It is not something that all people want to happen, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary.
The changes will be to make the home a safer place that is easier to navigate and could include removing any excess furniture that could be getting in the way, installing grab bars near doors and in the bathroom, utilizing smoke detectors that have a strobe lighting option for older people who are hard of hearing, and installing non-slip mats in the tub and shower.
If You Can’t Be There
You may have to work, or perhaps you live a long way from the older adult in question. If that is the case and they can generally live by themselves, you could install motion sensors that would alert you if they don’t move for a certain amount of time. They wouldn’t have to worry about their privacy as there are no cameras or microphones installed, but if you did notice that they had stayed in the same place for a while, you could give them a call and make sure they are okay. If there is no response, you can ask a neighbor to check in or call an ambulance if you are really worried.
This is something else that is extremely important if you aren’t planning to live with the senior in question, but they still wish to stay at home for as long as possible. It is important that they spend time with other people and aren’t on their own too much. If you can’t physically be there, then you should phone them or, if they are tech-savvy, Skype or video call. It will depend on the person in question, but talking to them regularly at the very least is going to be something they look forward to, so don’t ignore how important it is.
Visiting in person is best because it will give you a chance to check around the house and make sure that everything is as it should be. Is anything looking uncared for? Can you see any unopened mail lying around, for example, or have the dishes not been done for a while? Perhaps the plants haven’t been watered, or there are soiled clothes in the house that normally would have been washed. As for the older adult themselves, you can check out how they are too. Look out for bruises that might indicate a fall, and make sure they have regularly been eating.
Something that is important for older adults is exercise. They won’t be able to do anything too strenuous, but some regular exercise is going to help to keep them healthier for longer, and therefore more able to stay in their own home. When older people exercise, they remain protected from illness more, and they stay independent.