5 Tips Everyone Should Know When Caring for a Senior Loved One
BY NATASHA WOODS
Most individuals find caring for a senior loved one to be a rewarding experience. I certainly did when I took care of my grandmother. But at the same time, I found that a lot of the experience was emotionally draining and tougher than I had initially anticipated.
Simple tasks such as going up and down the stairs became like a chore for my grandmother. Which is why one of the first things we did was to have a stair lift installed. Stair lifts are very helpful for senior loved ones to access all areas of the home. Difficulties with climbing the stairs, unfortunately, was just the start of my grandmother’s mobility problems. It wasn’t just that she was aging but she also had a stroke previously, which made her overall mobility and balance a danger to herself. It’s never easy seeing a loved one go through such an experience.
The fact that I made sure to eat and exercise with my grandmother gave her the push she needed to be more active and healthy.
During the course of taking care of her, I learned the following five tips to help me cope and also provide better care for her so we could work together.
Keep your loved one active and healthy
One of the first things you want to concentrate on as a caregiver is the health of your loved one. It took me some time to realize this but giving my grandmother a little push to eat more fruits and vegetables along with performing light exercises with her made both our days a lot better. For light exercise, we would go out for a walk in the morning, which helped refresh our day.
I had a whole meal plan for both of us which involved a lot of fruits and green vegetables. We would have lean meat only once in the day while eating as healthy as possible. The fact that I made sure to eat and exercise with my grandmother gave her the push she needed to be more active and healthy. I believe that the mental health for both of us benefited from sticking to this healthier schedule.
Take some personal time
When taking care of a loved one, many get too engrossed in the whole process and forget about themselves. They ignore their own health, both physical and mental, which can end up taking a toll on them. After my grandmother experienced a stroke, I told myself that I will do whatever I could to prevent that from happening again. I thought this meant letting go of myself and putting all my focus on her to make sure she was taken care of.
Just weeks in, I realized that I started to lose an unhealthy amount of weight, couldn’t sleep, and was stressed out a lot. This wasn’t because it was difficult taking care of her or that I thought she was a burden, I just noticed that too much of my time went directly to taking care of her. This was when I decided to take some personal time and concentrate on myself when my grandmother would nap. During this time, I did things I enjoyed, which kept me centered like yoga or reading a book.
Obviously, we still want to care for our loved ones, but giving a little bit of time to ourselves helps reduce stress and gives us a positive mindset. Honestly, it also helps them get time to themselves as well, which can be equally as important.
Listen to your loved ones
One mistake we all can make when taking care of a loved one is to ignore their wants and needs because we might think we know what’s best for them. No matter our age or role in the family, we all should be better listeners. For example, my grandmother, like many older adults, did not want to come to terms with her aging. So when we initially installed the stair lift, she refused to use it and said that she was more than capable to climb the stairs on her own. She wouldn’t even sit in the lift for at least the first month.
After a few weeks of this and her developing some pain in the knee, she gave into the idea that the stair lift was the better option.
Rather than forcing her to use this new device that would help her, I would assist her to travel up and down the stairs each time she needed it. After a few weeks of this and her developing some pain in the knee, she gave into the idea that the stair lift was the better option. She realized that the stair lift would only make her life easier and started to use it without me even suggesting it. This gave her the chance to travel up and down the stairs independently and without putting any strain on her knees.
Rather than forcing your loved ones to do something, hear them out and work with them at their own pace. This way they get there on their own and won’t try to resist your ideas or help.
Make the home more accessible
Mobility in the house is important for any senior loved one. They need to be able to move around with ease so they don’t feel like a burden. From making food products, dishes and utensils more accessible by storing them on the counter or a shelf within reach to having a ramp for a senior in a wheelchair. You need to take the necessary steps to make everything in the home accessible for your loved ones.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
In fact, you should always be willing to take any help you can get. With help, you can take some extra time to yourself – letting you refresh yourself and be a better caregiver for your loved one. There may also be times when you find that you can’t provide them with the care they need. So, if you can, seek some help to ensure they get the proper care. However, before you go seeking or accepting assistance, make sure you discuss things with your loved one so they feel comfortable with any new arrangements.
I absolutely loved spending time with my grandmother, and being her primary caregiver was an immense joy in my life when I followed these tips.
Featured Image Source: Envato Elements
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – NATASHA WOODS
Natasha is a firm believer in health and wellness for all ages. Having been a family caregiver for her grandmother, she knows what it’s like to go through family trials and tribulations. She is currently a blogger who wants to aid others in understanding the tips of healthy and safe aging that she has come across with her own personal experiences as well as through deep research on the topic.