Caring for an elderly loved one is difficult. The responsibilities of a caregiver are physically, financially, and emotionally draining. You may face decisions that can either help or reduce their quality of life. It can be a daunting task but it is possible to successfully care for them.
Know their needs
Though it is difficult to discuss the “what ifs” when caring for an elderly loved one, you should be aware of what their needs are. Have a plan in place for situations in which they may not be able to speak for themselves. It will save confusion and frustration, for loved ones and caregivers alike, if everyone on the care team is aware of the plan and sticks with it.
As end of life approaches, the body no longer requires the nutrients it used to. Caregivers are often concerned that their loved one will starve if they are not eating what is considered normal. On the contrary, it can cause discomfort to the loved one to force food and drink upon them. Let your loved one take the lead and eat and drink what they want (if possible), when they want.
Loved ones may sleep more, be restless, or be confused. Be present and soothing. Holding their hand while speaking in a quiet and natural voice or playing soothing music are ways to help make your loved one calm and comfortable.
You don't have to be on this journey alone. Hospice facilities offer assistance for those with complex illnesses or chronic injuries. Hospice care provides professionals who are dedicated to improving your loved one's quality of life. They provide physical, emotional, and spiritual care to help manage the ending stages of life. Many times doctors will wait for family to mention hospice care, so don't be afraid to ask.
Your loved one doesn’t have to live away from home to get the care they need. In-home care is available to help with household tasks, medication management, therapy, and nursing services. Many people are more comfortable being in their own homes, and in-home care is a way to keep them there.
Caring for an elderly loved one is difficult, but these five steps can help alleviate surprises and concerns surrounding caring for an elderly loved one.