Perhaps your mom was recently diagnosed with dementia, or your grandfather suffered a broken bone after a nasty fall. Whatever the reason, there comes a time in many adults lives when they become caregiver for someone who once provided care for them. The following are seven important care considerations should you find that your loved one or client needs your assistance.
7 Tips for Providing Personal Care for a Senior
Bathing/hygiene. Some seniors may be unable to wash their hair or bend and stretch to adequately cleanse themselves. In fact, many older individuals let their hygiene fall by the wayside due to mobility concerns and an increased risk of falling on slippery surfaces. Dry shampoo and body wipes will help, but your senior loved one or client should bathe at least twice a week. A no-profile shower (a barrier free shower) with built-in seating and safety grab bars is the safest option. The Senior List offers more senior-friendly bathroom ideas.
Dressing. Like bathing, dressing can be a chore due to issues such as arthritis or visual impairment. Provide clothing that caters to the seniors’ abilities as well as their sense of style. For instance, try slip-on pants for those who can no longer achieve the manual dexterity required to fasten buttons.
Eating. There are a multitude of reasons for your loved one or client in the 65+ crowd to turn away from the table. Medication may interfere with his or her sense of taste, ill-fitting dentures can create problems chewing, and depression, which is common in older people, is known to suppress appetite. Encourage your loved one or client to eat small meals even if they don’t have the appetite or ability to eat with the family.
Entertainment. Although seniors may not feel like going to the movies or dancing on a Friday night, they should still have access to things they enjoy. This could be reading, watching television, gardening, or anything that stimulates the mind and gives pleasure.
Health/medicine. There is a good chance your loved one or client will rely on prescription medications each day. You can subscribe to reminder services or use your smart home/phone device to sound an alarm when it’s time for a dose. As a caregiver, you are also responsible for ensuring your loved one or client has access and transportation to general healthcare providers as well as any specialists they see.
Fitness. A healthy body supports a healthy mind and vice versa. The National Council on Aging reports that regular exercise can “help older adults stay independent and prevent health problems that come with age.” Your loved one or client should participate in moderate exercise at least 30 minutes, five times each week, including two or three days of muscle-strengthening activities. The NCOA link above offers more information on senior fitness options.
Cleaning. Seniors become prone to hoarding and living in poor conditions as age robs their ability to perform normal household tasks, such as doing laundry, putting away dishes, and sweeping and vacuuming. You may need to handle these chores along with general home maintenance if your senior has chosen to age in place.
If you want your loved one or client to remain in their home, there are plenty of home services that can make that a reality. These include (but are certainly not limited to):
● Adult day centers
● Live-in companions
● Computer-based medical care
● Alarm monitoring
● Transportation services
● Home modifications
No matter if you’re planning to move your loved one or client in with you or are caring from a distance while they live life on their own terms, you can help loved ones remain happy and healthy by understanding their needs and wants. It can be overwhelming at times but caring for a loved one or client is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself, your family, and your aging parent.
No five-minute read on a blog can offer you all the information you need to care for your aging relative. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide, but a starting point that may help you ease into your new role until you learn to identify your loved one’s new and unique needs.
Harry ClineThe A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers