It’s often said that aging is a privilege, enjoyed only by those who are lucky enough to live a long life. However, aging also brings with it some challenges, do to with the inevitable physical deterioration and health conditions that are involved when the body gets older. As a consequence, seniors might need a bit of extra help in carrying out daily activities that they wouldn’t have spent a second thought on in their youth. You might have an elderly relative – a parent or grandparent, for instance – who, while they remain young and strong in your head, might need a bit of extra help as they grow older. Knowing how you can help is half the battle. Here are seven ways you can support and an elderly relative.
1. Help with chores and shopping
Seniors often struggle with mobility issues, due to chronic conditions such as arthritis or the general wear and tear sustained by the body over time. As such, physical activities such as housework and the weekly trip to the supermarket might become more difficult. Help your elderly relative by doing more strenuous chores such as vacuum cleaning and yard work. Your relative will be glad of the help around the house while still maintaining their independence by doing lighter work like washing up themselves. You can also do their weekly shopping for them, or organize a grocery delivery online if it is easier.
2. Install mobility aids in their home
To help further with mobility, you and your relative might want to consider investing in some mobility aids for their home. Stairlifts are an essential piece of equipment if their house has multiple stories and your relative has difficulty getting up and down the stairs or is at risk of falling. Many stairlifts are custom built and as such can fit even the most difficult of staircases. You can also find bathroom equipment, such as walk-in bathtubs and handrails, so that your relative can continue to bathe independently and with dignity while avoiding slipping on the wet surfaces. For increased mobility and, therefore, independence outside the home, walking aids such as walking sticks, Zimmer frames and mobility scooters can help to prevent falling. With these pieces of equipment, your relative will feel more confident in enjoying life outside their own home.
3. Explore senior living options
Despite being equipped with mobility aids, there may come a point in time when your relative’s home might no longer be the best place for them to live; or, they themselves might want an increased social life and sense of community to stave off any isolation from living alone. In these scenarios, you and your relative can explore senior living options, such as those found on https://www.belmontvillage.com/. Assisted living facilities at retirement villages provides seniors with the perfect mix of independence and extra support. A sense of community is nurtured among the residents with a full schedule of social activities planned, ensuring that residents enjoy fulfilling, rewarding days.
4. Accompany your relative to hospital appointments
With aging comes an inevitable increase in medical care and hospital appointments, due to the general wear and tear and maintenance issues experienced by a body that is no longer young. Visits to the hospital for appointments and medical procedures can be lonely, worrying times, and your relative is sure to appreciate having you with them as moral support to keep them company. You can also act almost as an advocate for your relative, making sure that they have all the relevant information relating to their condition or procedure, and that they understand any complicated medical jargon.
5. Assist your relative in legal and financial tasks
If your relative is a widow/widower it could be that they are now having to take on tasks that their late partner previously would have done, such as paying bills and filling out legal paperwork. This is a task that can be overwhelming if they are not used to doing it, and could lead to financial difficulties if bills are not paid on time. You can help out by assisting your relative in paying bills and filling out legal forms. You and your relative might also like to consider drawing up a living will. Though this might initially be a difficult conversation to have, a living will can provide a clear set of instructions for family members to follow in the emotional event of your relative being incapacitated.
6. Create a memory book
Memory books are scrapbooks telling a person’s life story, including pictures, from their youth to old age and all the memorable events in between. They are particularly helpful tools for dementia patients, helping to jog the memory and bring important information to mind, and can help caregivers from outside the family to communicate and form a bond with their patient. However, memory books are hugely beneficial for everyone, not just dementia patients. You could get the kids involved in interviewing their grandparents, for instance, and have a laugh choosing photographs from the family albums. A memory book will provide you and your family with an incredibly precious record of your much-loved relative, helping to preserve their memory for all time.
7. Spend time together as a family
A lot of people are at risk of becoming isolated as they age. This could be due to health conditions confining them to the home, or the deaths of their close circle of friends and spouses. However, loneliness and social isolation in older people is recognized as a big risk, and could eventually affect mental health. Spend time with your elderly relative by dropping in for a coffee and a chat, or invite them to your home for dinner with your family once or twice a week. Alternatively, have a chat over the phone a few times a week if you are unable to visit in person. Your relative is sure to enjoy the company and feel like a valued member of the family, creating precious memories to last for years to come.