- Keep Them Active
Over time, it is common for many of the elderly to become less active and less involved with their family and in their community.
It’s your job as a caregiver to not let that happen. A good place to start is with their diet. Make sure they are eating nutritious foods that provide them with energy. With the approval of their doctor, encourage exercise at least three times a week. Even a short neighborhood walk will do wonders for their spirit and blood flow.
- Wheelchair Safety
A few years ago, I had a fresh-faced batch of geriatric care management students in my program. For their first training mission they had to spend an entire day in a wheelchair and try to get around town as if it were a regular day. They had to get to my class, make a phone call from a pay phone, get in and out of an elevator, use a public restroom, drink from a water fountain, eat at a restaurant, shop in a convenience store, and so forth. Boy, did that mission awaken them to the realities of a wheelchair-bound life.
- Tips for Traveling with the Elderly
Aging shouldn’t keep elders from traveling and interacting with the world at large, if they still have the capacity and drive to do so. Travel can still be an exciting experience for them, but it takes a great deal of organization. Complications you would never think of can arise. Something as simple as jet lag could pose a major problem since it takes many elderly people twice as long to recover from it. The key is to plan.
- Work Options for Caregivers
Today's business world is full of working singles, working couples, working parents, and now, working caregivers. These working caregivers are often dealing with a dramatic change in personal circumstances, as senior relatives who were once independent now need attention. Caregiving takes time and energy, so it’s important to be flexible so you can meet all of your commitments while you remain employed. You may want to consider the following options:
- Preparing Your Elder for Rain or Shine
No matter what the weather may be, it can still be enjoyable to spend some time outdoors with your elder. Obviously, you can’t change the weather, but you can try to prepare so that your elder doesn’t have to sit inside all day. Now I’m not advocating going for a walk in 110-degree sunshine or during a violent thunderstorm, but you can take some steps to enjoy the great outdoors most of the time.
- Aging Parents and Their Finances
Dealing with finances, either your own or those of others, can be a real headache. And money is something that can easily come between people, especially family members. However, when you have aging parents, their finances may need your attention at some point. This can be complicated, but there are ways to make it more manageable. Remember that the very nature of the discussion calls their independence into question, so be sensitive to that. But you still have to address this as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely that problems will arise.
- The Importance of a Will
A will is a crucial document that must be taken care of well in advance of the end of your elder’s life. Do not allow your elder to die intestate (without a will). When your elder doesn’t have a will, the state may take over, which can become very complicated. You’re almost sure to lose a hefty percentage of the true value of the estate. By making a will and assigning power of attorney, your elder will feel comforted that his or her wishes will be carried out.
- Dealing with Grief
Grief can be a hard subject to talk about. No amount of planning can eliminate the grief or loss associated with the death of an elder loved one—and it shouldn’t. Grief is an important part of death, and you need to allow yourself to feel it. It is a healthy and powerful way to show love. Grief is often internalized through thoughts and feelings, but you may also express grief in words and tears. We were given tear ducts to relieve the stress and pressure of our lives. Use them.
- Fulfilling Elders’ Wishes in Their Last Days
As our elders approach their last days, we can do a number of things to make the process a little easier. One thing I like to do is to ask about any unfulfilled wishes. You will both get a lot out of this process. Being involved in their final days really gives the dying a great deal of satisfaction. It allows them to feel they are actually still in control of some things in life.
- Understanding Hospice Care
Clients often ask me to explain what hospice care is, as well as when it can be implemented. Hospice is a specialized program of palliative care for patients and/or residents who have less than six months to live. This period can vary from state to state.