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How To Care For Elderly Relatives

 There comes a time in our lives when we begin to care for those who once cared for us. That is, our parents or grandparents will reach the age where caregiving duties are reversed, as they require more comprehensive healthcare support than they did while they were younger.

While this may seem daunting, it's actually incredibly rewarding to be able to give back to those who cared for you. However, caring for elderly relatives when dealing with a busy schedule can be tough.

Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

With that in mind, here are four simple ways in which you can show up for your elderly relatives, even when you’re pretty busy yourself!  

Help them manage their healthcare needs.

As mentioned above, as we get older, our healthcare needs change quite considerably. Sometimes, this can feel overwhelming, especially if we’re trying to implement lifestyle changes, take medication, and follow doctors’ ever-changing orders. As a result, one way in which you can support your elderly relatives during this time is by helping them to find the most effective ways to manage their healthcare needs. 

For example, if they are showing symptoms of hearing loss, you should encourage them to meet with an audiologist. If they are encouraged to use hearing aids, you should ensure that they use them regularly, as studies have found that 20% of people with hearing aids do not use them whatsoever. Beyond this, you should ensure that they know how to care for hearing aids correctly so that these devices function effectively. For example, if they do not know how to adjust the settings, they may find that they still struggle to follow along with (or engage in) conversation.

Another way in which you can help your relatives manage their healthcare needs is by attending any healthcare appointments with them. This way, they feel a little less alone! 

Encourage them to stay active. 

Staying active is always important, but it becomes even more important as we age. This is because maintaining a consistent level of both mobility and agility will enable your loved one to live independently for longer. It also means they’ll be able to stick to their current routine without difficulty or the need for extra support. 

As such, you should help your loved one find new ways of staying active - modifying their old habits if they’re dealing with any health complications. For example, while they may have gone on daily runs in the past, this isn’t always possible as they get older - but a daily walk is much more manageable and is still an effective way for them to take control of their health. 

Look into assisted living when necessary.

It's important to note that sometimes it's no longer possible for your loved one to live independently, and they may require more comprehensive care than you are able to offer within your own home. As such, you should be aware of the different options available to you (and your relative) should this become the case. For example, they could move into an assisted living facility, which allows them to maintain some of their independence while still having direct access to care and support. If their needs are more comprehensive, you may want to look into care homes or specialist homes. 

Either way, doing some research ahead of time into local facilities can make this difficult decision a little easier, as you’ll be able to visit them ahead of time. This way, you’ll know you’re making the right decision for your loved one. 

Provide them with companionship.

As elderly people are more likely to deal with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, socializing is important. After all, many of these struggles are often borne from the isolation that comes hand in hand with aging - whether they’re dealing with bereavement or simply less mobile than they once were. As such, one of the easiest and most effective ways in which you can care for your elderly relative is by spending time with them and providing them with a sense of companionship.

When you are unable to visit them in person, don’t underestimate the value of a quick message or a phone call. In some cases, this could be the only outside interaction they receive for the entire day, and it is sure to leave a smile on their face. Beyond this, you should also encourage them to attend support groups or pick up hobbies that provide them with some extra social interaction so that they’re spending less time alone!

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