The difficulties that accompany old age are as frustrating as they are inevitable. Additionally, many children face the reality of having to care for their parents as they enter the twilight of their lives. This isn’t always an easy thing to deal with. Indeed, it can prove to be one of the most challenging tasks anyone could ever imagine facing. The good news is, the more prepared you are for this probable eventuality, the better you can adjust to caring for the elderly. So if you’re beginning to worry about an older family member, check out these six important tidbits before you make any big decisions.
Safety is Priority Number One
When you first start working in close proximity to the elderly, you need to appreciate that their safety is more important than anything else. While managing their day-to-day activities so as to cut down on high-risk situations can be contentious, it’s ultimately a critical step to take. Furthermore, you should work to improve the safety of their living environment. Little things can make a big difference in terms of safety and comfort for the elderly.
Handling Pills and Medication
No one –– whether they’re eight or eighty –– enjoys taking their medicine. However, oftentimes elderly people have multiple pills or medications that they need to take regularly. With that in mind, it’s important to not only familiarize yourself with the brands and types of medication prescribed, but also with the necessary medical accouterments. Getting familiar with tools like drawing needles or even more outlandish instruments like pcr tube strips with attached caps might seem like a daunting assignment at first, but the sooner you begin, the more at ease you’ll feel with the equipment.
Stick to the Schedule
In this instance, more often than not improvisation is the enemy. If you’re not accustomed to caring for the elderly regularly, it’s wise to first seek out a regimen or routine for the day. Knowing your responsibilities beforehand –– as well as understanding how long you have for certain activities –– will help you adjust to the new environment.
Listen More than You Speak
This is good advice not just for elderly care, but for most situations in life. People appreciate someone who’s willing to listen to them and ask their opinion. Avoiding patronizing dialogue and instead seeking to engage with someone on a personal level is never a bad decision. Just remember to keep your ears open –– and your mouth shut –– when the moment calls for it.
Encourage Social Situations
Sitting in one room all day isn’t a fun or productive use of anyone’s time. In order to lift spirits all around, consider planning days out with other senior citizens, or perhaps with elderly groups within the community. Going out to places like a local zoo, museum, or art gallery can be a tremendous and fulfilling way to get out of the house and get some fresh air. Plus, any activity that allows an elderly person to converse with one of their peers is one worth pursuing. Note to always stay positive and attentive when out and about as well.
Don’t Fake It
Elderly folks aren’t dumb; so don’t try and fool them with disingenuous comments or actions. Not only is this unwise, but it’s a demeaning and hurtful way to comport yourself. If you want to properly care for the elderly, you need to cultivate a respect between yourself and them. Feigning interest or concern won’t do you or them any good. When dealing with the elderly work to be your best self, and always lead with compassion and empathy.