In recent years, the number of people choosing to care for an elderly relative has rocketed. No longer are relatives happy to leave loved ones in care homes, where they spend the last few years of their lives virtually alone. The vast majority of elderly people would prefer to get old somewhere that is familiar and comfortable. As people get older they become increasingly more dependent on other people, needing more help around the house, with their personal needs and for company. Caring for an elderly relative can be very stressful. Here are some things to consider before you take over the care of someone you love.
Talk to Them
A loss of independence is not the easiest of topics to discuss with a relative, but it’s important that you do as it’s vital they feel they have a say in their own care. Bring the subject up while they are still healthy and explain you want to ensure they have everything they need. A good place to start would be to talk about any medication they are taking, and whether there are any medical needs you need to know about. For example, they may be suffering with incontinence and need pads, liners & guards. Talking about bladder control pads and incontinence liners may not be an easy subject for them to talk about either. However, once such issues concerning bladder pads, for example are out in the open, it will be easier for you to plan for their care.
What Level of Care Will be Required?
Think about what level of care you’ll be able to provide if they are in their own home? Will it be better if you make room for them in your own home? Will 24 hour care be required or are they going to be independent enough for you to just visit a few times every week? Be realistic in the level of care you’re going to be able to provide. Don’t rule out the possibility of hiring home care to help out. Are there any community services in the area that can help? It will ease the burden of caring for your relative if there is help available. Your relative’s doctor may be able to offer some advice.
Keep Yourself Healthy
Caring for a loved one can be stressful. You will also find yourself putting a lot of time and effort into the care you provide. This is why it’s important you take care of your own health as well. If you forget or neglect yourself then who will take over the responsibility? Eat a healthy and balanced diet and get enough of the right kind of exercise.
Your own health will rapidly deteriorate, and you’ll quickly burn out if you don’t take care of yourself.
You may find the situation very difficult, but it is equally so for the relative requiring your care. It is important to empathize with how they are feeling regarding the fact that their mind and body may be slowly deteriorating and there’s virtually nothing they can do about it. This can be very frustrating and at times they will feel very angry. Don’t boss them around and try and make them understand you have their best interests at heart.