As our parents age, certain changes become inevitable. While these changes will come slowly for some folks, there’re others for whom the changes are quite dramatic. Whichever the case may be, the fact remains that our senior citizens require a special type of care for their safety and well-being. In this post, we’ll be providing you with important information that’ll show you how to care for your elderly parents; making the lifestyle adjustments and big decisions that’ll ultimately help make their last years beautiful. Are you ready? Let’s do this!
When it comes to the care and safety of your aging parents, there’re a number of factors to consider. What are these factors and how do they affect the quality of life for seniors? Well, they include:
- Their ability to perform basic activities of daily living
- Health problems and medication
- Their living arrangements
We’ll be looking at each of these factors and discussing how they affect the safety and wellbeing of your parents.
Their activities of daily living
Activities of daily living (ADL) refer to the routine, everyday tasks that we do by ourselves and for ourselves. Basically, there are six of these activities. They are: showering/bathing, toileting, personal hygiene (oral care, skin and hair care), getting dressed, moving about and self-feeding. These are simple tasks that we perform every day and we tend to take them for granted. But as we grow older, they don’t seem so simple anymore and we may need help getting them done.
From age 60 (for many it’s actually a decade earlier), your parents start experiencing some of the signs of aging. These may be declining vision, hearing loss, arthritis, osteoporosis, higher susceptibility to diseases, lower energy levels among others. Naturally, the development of any of these conditions can interfere with one’s ability to perform ADLs.
It’s important for your aging parents’ sense of dignity and wellbeing that they’re able to perform these ADLs, regardless of whatever signs of aging they might be showing. It’s important that they’re able to have baths/showers, eat and use the toilet when they want to. And it’s equally important for them that they’re able to get from place to place, get dressed – appropriately and socialize. If they’ve developed any symptoms of aging, it may interfere with their ability to do these for themselves and you’ll have to get them the help they need.
Some of the ways you can help them include:
- Get them medical help. A doctor will be able to correctly recommend the medication, equipment or devices that’ll help them enjoy a better quality of life.
- Employ professional caregivers who can help them prepare meals, do the shopping and similar tasks.
- If your parent(s) lives with you, consider modifying or redesigning your home to accommodate their needs. For instance, installing pet pens to keep the pet out of mum’s way, install grab bars, widen doorways and so on.
- Ask for certifications from caregivers before employing them. It’s also a good idea to ensure that the home modifications are done by experts.
Health Problems and Medications
If your parents are on any medication, understanding what the drugs are for. Things like knowing the recommended dosage and if there’re any special instructions will come in handy. This will help you know whether your dad will need any special assistance with taking the medication. It’s also important you pay attention to any side effects that the drug may have and report to the doctor if they’re bad.
Living arrangements and safety
While some seniors would rather live in their own houses, a number of them wouldn’t mind moving into an assisted living facility. Whatever their choice may be, it’s important to note that culture plays a huge role in how they view this issue. In the African family traditional system, the care and management of the elderly is the responsibility of the extended family but with the changes in the times, the system has been failing. For many, living in their own houses means returning to rural areas where the best medical care may not be readily available. Situations like these, make the ‘how to care for my elderly parents and keep them safe’ question a delicate issue. Discuss these issues with them before making any decisions on their living arrangements.
So what are the options?
If seniors who insist on staying in their own home aren’t impaired or incapacitated in any way, you may consider employing a family or professional caregiver . They’ll check in on them weekly and give you reports on their state of mind and health.
If they’re impaired or incapacitated in any way and insist on living in their own houses, it’d be a good idea to employ a live-in caregiver. Such a person has to have the necessary medical qualifications and experience so as to be able to provide professional help and assistance to your parent(s).
Another solution to the living arrangements problem lies in assisted living facilities or nursing homes aka old people’s home. These facilities are designed to be homely with the accommodations built like apartments and flats instead of hospital rooms. What’s more, your mum and dad can spend out their later years together as they enjoy round-the-clock medical surveillance, security and the company of other seniors.
Having your parents live with you or a relative is yet another way around this problem. This way you can rest easy as you get to keep your own eyes on them and provide things like errand-running services and companionship that you can trust. You may have to make adaptations to your home design. This will make it easier for them feel comfortable and get around with risking a fall. what’s more, they get to enjoy the company of the kids as well. Speaking of kids, there’s a post on how to keep them safe too.
Helpful tip on Caring for your elderly parents
Get an emergency or medical alarm/alert system for your parents. It allows them to send emergency alarms in seconds. The Keep Me Safe app has a feature that sends a signal if you long-press the volume-down button.