Tips for Taking Care of Elderly

Activity is important for the elderly and their caretakers.
Activity is important for the elderly and their caretakers.

Tips for taking care of elderly family members include suggestions for taking care of yourself. It can be difficult to think that in caring for others, you must be mindful of your own wellbeing. Check out these tips for caring for the elderly members of your family.

Your Health Affects Everything

The first rule of caring for the elderly is to take care of yourself. You should have at least one-to-two days a week where you are "off" for a few hours. Many families have elderly members that they look after and enjoy the company of. Caring for an elderly family member may involve something simple, such as making meals. But for many, it means staying overnight, running errands, and dispensing medicine. Caretaking might also include changing the bed sheets, feeding by hand and monitoring every bodily function as a nurse would.

When you overextend yourself, don't have assistance from family or even a professional nurse in order to have a break on some days, you will find that you're just as likely to make yourself ill. That illness may be passed onto your elderly family member, worsening his or her health and increasing your work.

Top Tips for Taking Care of Elderly

So the first thing on your list after establishing your home care routine is to make sure that other members of the family are aware of it. If you shop on Saturday mornings, this might be a good time for a friend or family member to come over and have breakfast with the elderly patient or family member.

Tip number two involves socializing. Social interactions are extremely important to an elderly person's mental and emotional health. Regular interactions with people of all ages should be encouraged unless they are ill.

Tip number three reiterates part of tip number one. One person should never have the sole responsibility for caring for an elderly family member. Traditionally, one might expect children to look after their elderly parents, but grandchildren, nieces, nephews and siblings should also be involved. An entire family looking after its members reduces the overwhelming burden.

The fourth tip is to investigate all the benefits available to your elderly family member via Social Security and Medicare. You may need to get a power of attorney established in order to fill out any necessary paperwork, but the supportive care options from Medicare can make your job easier.

For the fifth and final top tip, remember that elderly adults are not children. While some adults suffer from mental frailties such as Alzheimer's and dementia, the majority remain mentally active and alert. Do not talk to them as though you are in charge. Remember to always show thoughtfulness, compassion and respect.

To summarize, the top tips for taking care of elderly people include:

  • Take time for yourself
  • Social interactions are important
  • Share responsibility for elderly care
  • Explore all available resources
  • Show thoughtfulness, compassion and respect.

Mental Stimulation is Key

The elderly require regular activity and cognitive stimulation to help keep their minds sharp.

Mentally-challenging games like crossword puzzles and chess are one way to stimulate cognitive thought. Encourage conversation about world events, discussion about their life history and asking their advice for managing current problems. The more involved an elderly person remains in their day to day lives and decisions, the more needed they feel; the better it is for everyone involved.

Studies suggest that caring for elderly parents can be difficult for family members if they aren't proactive in what tips for taking care of elderly family members. One resource you may find helpful is the Nation Family Caregivers Association. Read the LoveToKnow Seniors interview with NFCA's director, Suzanne Mintz, [National Family Caregivers Association Interview here].

Tips for Taking Care of Elderly