The challenges that come with aging can be vast and varied. From reduced mobility and new or progressing medical conditions to social isolation and bereavement, aging seniors often have a lot to deal with at once. As a family caregiver, it can be tough to know how to support your aging loved one best. After reading this step-by-step guide, we hope you will feel in a better position to offer the right support to your relative. We have split the process of assessing and addressing the needs of an aging parent or loved one into four key steps.
Step One: Make an Assessment of Their Needs
Of course, the first thing to do before offering support to your loved one is to find out precisely what kind of support they need. This can be done by making careful observations of your loved one’s lifestyle. It may be useful to take notes each day, jotting down anything that draws your attention.
It might help to consider and make a note of things such as:
- Any activities of daily living or personal care tasks your loved one struggles with.
- Anything that they regularly ask you for help with.
- Their mobility and any significant physical barriers in their home.
- What they eat and how they cope with grocery shopping and meal preparation.
- How they cope with health conditions and medication management.
- How often they socialize with friends and family, and whether they seem lonely.
Step Two: Get Your Relative’s Perspective
Your perception of the support your loved one needs might be vastly different from theirs, and both of these perspectives hold value. It’s worth sitting down with your parent to discuss the things they are struggling with. As well as offering new insights into any difficulties or worries they might have, this will help your parent to feel heard and properly involved in their own care.
It’s easy for family caregivers to take complete control of a relative’s care, without first consulting their loved one and considering their opinion. This is usually done accidentally and only as a result of a true desire to make life as easy as possible for an aging relative, but it may leave them feeling unheard or helpless. Alternatively, when family caregivers take complete control, it can result in seniors becoming overly dependent – resigning themselves to having everything done for them. This in itself can be detrimental to a senior’s health.
While taking complete care of your parent’s needs is the best option in some cases, there are often benefits of allowing seniors to do things independently with just the right amount of support. This may improve their self-esteem or allow them to stay independent and mobile for longer. Allowing an aging senior to give their perspective on the level of support they need can help family caregivers get the balance just right.
Step Three: Assess What You Can Realistically Offer
While family caregivers often wish they could wave a magic wand and make everything better for their parent or loved one, senior care is rarely this simple. You likely have a range of responsibilities or health issues of your own to compete with. When deciding how to best support your loved one, it’s important to have realistic expectations of yourself.
- Your own health and physical capabilities. If you struggle with mobility yourself, you may be less able to safely support your loved one in moving around the home or carrying out personal care tasks.
- Any other responsibilities. Perhaps you have children of your own or work commitments that also require prioritization in your life. Juggling too many responsibilities can lead to burnout or illness.
- Your qualifications. While there are a range of things you can do to help your loved one as a family caregiver, if they have complex medical needs they may require professional support from a physician, nurse, or residential care home.
Step Four: Create A Solid Plan
The final important step in supporting your aging parent is to make a solid plan with actionable goals. It’s often useful to write this plan down to help you visualize what needs to be done and by when.
Things you might include in your senior relative’s care plan:
- Enhance their home’s safety by decluttering, installing hand and grab rails and introducing bright lighting.
- Collaborate with the family to create a visitation schedule, so they receive regular visits from their loved ones.
- Set up video calling and instant messaging technology on their devices, and teach them how to use these.
- Run errands for them, like picking up groceries, paying bills or sending packages.
- Set up a medical alert system in their home.
- Always consider their views and feelings when putting new support measures into place.
Thinking About Residential Assisted Living
While there are a whole host of things you can do to support an aging parent or loved one, there may come a time when you need to explore residential care home options or assisted living in Hendersonville. Always strive to involve your loved one in this process as much as possible, allowing them to take the lead in finding a retirement home in TN they will truly love.
If you find your loved one may be in need of supportive care you are not able to provide, call today to arrange a tour of our vibrant residential care home and kickstart the next positive chapter in your loved one’s life.