Sooner or later, the people that we’ve grown used to will stop being themselves. Our parents that used to drive may no longer be able to, the uncle that handled DIY projects like a pro will retire, and the neighbour that watched us grow might not be able to climb stairs. It’s a painful thought, but it’s inevitable. Sooner or later, we’ll be stripped of the actions that we currently take for granted. However, let’s not think that far ahead, and let’s focus on the now.
Caring for the elderly shouldn’t be seen as a job, although it might end up feeling like that at times. However, they need support both physically and mentally, so here are some tips on getting closer to your loved ones and how to support them.
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Speak with Them
The worst thing you can do is cut contact. People don’t realise they’re growing old overnight—it’s a process that slowly eats away at their enthusiasm and health over many years. Don’t be overbearing and scream or mock them for being unable to do tasks they used to. We sometimes take interaction with our loved ones for granted, and we should never let a short temper get the best of us.
If you live far away, then consider calling them at least a few times each week. Teach them to use social media and other internet services so you can keep in touch with “new” technology and not just the phone. Despite their age, elderly usually love to discover modern technology keep in touch using newer methods. For example, there’s an elderly woman that keeps her brain active using a Nintendo DS!
If you live close by, then make sure to visit them on a regular basis. Pass by their place on your way home with some treats that they love. Perhaps some food, some groceries, or maybe offer to help to pick up their medication from the pharmacy. Do what you can to keep them in the loop and keep them connected to family members and friends.
Ensure they Have Support
Not everyone’s got the support they need. Make sure that your elderly friend or family member has a life insurance plan. Learn more at seniorlifeinsuranceplans.com/senior-life-insurance/guaranteed-issue/. They also might be eligible for extra benefit and income, such as winter fuel payments to help keep their home warm for the cold season.
It’s not always possible to keep an eye on them especially if they live on their own. You can hire professional carers that’ll look after your elderly friend or family member for a price. You might be able to cut the costs with some benefits, so be sure to contact your local medical services and discuss what options there are.
If they don’t like external help, then consider moving them into the family home together with you. Seniors are great with children, and their wisdom and experience make great bedtime stories to tell the children. If they’re still capable of acting on their own without external help, they also make great babysitters, and it allows them to keep in touch with the family and stay social.
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Keep them Occupied
Introduce a new hobby to your senior friend or family member, or perhaps sign them up for local clubs and communities to help keep them active. Don’t expect them to jog around and work out at the gym (unless they’re still very healthy!) but make sure they have friends to keep in touch with and something to keep themselves occupied.
The internet is a great way to give them endless amounts of entertainment. Sign them up for an IT course that’s specifically designed for seniors and they’ll be sending you tweets and Facebook messages in no time. Learning a new skill or hobby is crucial to keeping their minds busy, and it can also be achieved with other forms of modern technology such as video games. They can watch films, participate in online discussions, share their wisdom via a blog, or even relax with online video games.
There are also traditional forms of entertainment such as bingo, scenic walks with neighbours and friends, and of course morning exercises with other seniors at the park. Try your best to get them involved with a like-minded community and you’ll find that you won’t need to stress about keeping an eye on them when they have friends to socialise with.
Look after Yourself
Don’t stress yourself out when you look after seniors. It can quickly become a job, and you might find yourself making sacrifices with your other friends or family members, or waking up in the middle of the night worried if they’re alright. Share the load with other friends and family members, get them involved and rotate yourselves on a loose schedule—make sure everyone does their part.
Living together with them can be emotionally taxing. You’ve spent much of your life working to move away and gain independence, and suddenly you’ll be living with seniors and looking after them most of the time. It can be a real shock to most people, and you have to support them with the same love and care that they did for you. You’ll see their quality of life deteriorate, you’ll notice they forget things, and you’ll have to help them with basic tasks like bathing and cooking.
Make sure you relax now and then. Never put the entire burden on your shoulders, and speak to people to let your thoughts out instead of bottling them up.
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Take it Easy
The key to looking after ageing friends and family is to take it slow. Never rush to conclusions, never over-prepare, and look on the brighter side of everything. You might find yourself screaming internally while taking care of them, or you might want to throw in the towel and hire a professional carer—but never give up! Growing old is an inevitability, and one day you’ll be in the same position they are. Treat them how you’d like to be treated when you grow older.