Many people will choose to keep their elderly parents or other family members at home instead of in a nursing facility, and they do it for a variety of reasons. While there may be many challenges in doing so, it can also be a rewarding experience for all involved. If you do decide to care for an older loved one at home, here are some ways you can help them achieve a healthier, fuller life.
1.) Give Them Protective Gear to Wear
If your elderly family member is still mobile enough to go outside once in a while, make sure to provide them with protective accessories they can use. It is important to protect the elderly with face masks, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected seniors. It’s also advisable for elderly individuals to wear arm sleeves or hand protectors that they can use to cover their hands when they are touching communal objects like ATM keypads or public handrails. While such accessories are not meant to provide 100% protection against pathogenic elements, wearing them is still a lot better than wearing no protection at all.
2.) Take Time to Help Them Eat Healthier
As our bodies age, our metabolism slows down and our caloric requirements decrease. We also start to need foods richer in calcium, potassium, vitamin b12, vitamin, and collagen to maintain good health. If your loved one is set in their eating habits, this could prove to be a challenge, as they may find it difficult to maintain good health by eating the same amount of food they did when they were in their 40s or 50s.
Consult with a nutritionist about the best types of food to prepare for them. Make sure to take into account any preexisting medical conditions, preferences, and other dietary restrictions. Ideally, you’ll want to serve them prepared portions as well so that they can’t overeat. You can also consider signing up for a local food subscription service to make food preparation more convenient.
3.) Encourage Them to Be Physically Active
Regular exercise can do a lot to boost the immune system. This is especially important for older adults as their immune systems will start to become less effective overall.
If your loved ones are still able to walk around on their own, take them out on walks or have them take your children places. You can also let them do errands around town. This will not only alleviate boredom but also help them get some exercise.
You can also encourage them to be physically active by inviting them to exercise or to go to the gym with you. Even if they say no at first, you’ll be planting a seed in their head that encourages them to go for it eventually. Just be sure to keep encouraging them now and then without nagging them about it.
4.) Encourage Them to Take Up a Creative Hobby
Boredom is one of the biggest problems the elderly face, especially when they’re in a home-care situation where they do not have any scheduled activities or interaction with other people their age. Engaging in creative activity can help decrease boredom and alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression, which can weaken the immune system and make one more vulnerable to physical illness.
Not all folks are interested in creative pursuits, and nagging them into doing them might lead to more resistance. But if they did have them when they were younger, it may not be too hard to encourage them to take it up again. If nothing else, you can at least encourage them to take up videogames, as these encourage creative thinking and problem solving in seniors as well.
5.) Make Sure They Can Socialize with Other People Their Age
If they still keep in touch with friends their age, it’s a great idea to help them meet up more often. You can also teach them to use social media and modern communications technology to better keep up with others in their generation. This will help put them in a good mood and give them something to look forward to.
6.) Learn How to Help Them with Their Hygiene
Older people may fall a bit behind in cleaning up after themselves. It’s important to ensure that they bathe daily and that they follow proper dental hygiene. It’s also essential to help them keep themselves properly groomed. It may become necessary to learn how to help them on the toilet and also to clean up after them when they become incontinent.
Keeping up with hygiene can be the most emotionally and physically demanding part of having an elderly loved one at home. Doing so alone can be overwhelming for many people and could lead to resentment within the family, as well as depression and other mood disorders. If possible, share the work with other close family members or hire a nurse to help at least part-time.
How we take care of the elderly can be a sensitive topic. Choosing to do it yourself can be challenging in terms of keeping up with their health needs, but it can be rewarding as well. It certainly won’t be easy, but having them close to us allows us to enjoy their wisdom, humor, and insights, hopefully for many more years to come.