A lot of older or elderly people won’t need much help at all as they get older. There’s no reason that an older person can’t continue to live a life that’s just as rich and independent as it ever was.
However, there are some situations where your elderly relative might start to need some help, particularly if they have suddenly become ill, been diagnosed with a memory problem such as Alzheimer’s, or have become injured.
Talk to Them
If you have started to become concerned about your relative’s wellbeing, for example, you’ve noticed that their home isn’t as clean or tidy as usual or they seem to be struggling to get around; the most important first step is to talk to them about it.
It’s a good idea to have this conversation as early as possible. It’s quite likely that you will have to have it a few times before your parent or relative is willing to admit that there is a problem and that something needs to be done about it, and so it’s a good idea to give yourself as much time as possible so that you can have the talk before the need becomes urgent.
When talking with a relative about aging, there are some things that you can do to help make it go more smoothly:
- Take the time to organize your thoughts beforehand by making notes so that when you are talking, you know exactly what you want to say. That being said, make sure that you approach the conversation with an open mind, rather than dictating what you think needs to happen, as this is unlikely to go down well!
- Be sure to listen to what your parents have to say. Your parents requiring more care now doesn’t mean that you are suddenly in charge, and this is likely to be a difficult subject for them to approach. Be respectful, and be sure to listen to what they want and how they feel.
- Give yourself enough time to have an in-depth discussion, don’t try to rush it. It’s also a good idea to ensure that everyone is there who might be involved in decisions and plans, obviously without making it overwhelming.
- Begin by having more casual conversations to plant the seeds of ideas. For example, you might use a news story or talk about another elderly relative to broach the topic of what your parents would like to happen when they get older.
Create a Plan
Once you’ve spoken with your parents or relatives about what they want and need and also brought up any of your own concerns, you can begin to think about putting a care plan in place.
Begin by making a list of all of the tasks and elements of life that your parent or relative needs help with. The easiest way to do this is by observing them over a period of a month or two and jotting down everything that you observe.
Be sure to include both things that could be improved in their current routine and things that you could add to their routine to help enrich their lives.
Some things that might go on a care plan are:
- Help with paying bills on time.
- Transportation to visit friends or attend social events.
- Personal care such as help getting washed and dressed.
- Assistance with preparing healthy meals, regularly.
- Help to keep their home clean and tidy.
- Help to move around in the home.
Once you have an idea of the level of care that is needed, you can assess how many hours that will take and whether it is possible to manage all of the tasks between willing family members.
You could also consider hiring people like gardeners or cleaners or getting meals on wheels delivery service to ensure that your relative is eating healthily.
If the level of care needed is significant and you would be concerned about your parents being left alone for long periods of time, then it’s worth talking about senior living options.
Senior living communities have a bit of a bad reputation in some families, but in fact, they can add a lot of happiness and wellbeing to life that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
There are different levels of senior living communities available, depending on the needs of the individual. Frontier Senior Living offers independent living, assisted living, or memory care communities:
These communities are exactly what they sound like. Each member of the community will live in their own room and have a mostly autonomous life, with the added benefit that they can eat in the dining room and have access to a multitude of community activities. This access to the community is a great way for older people to maintain a sense of purpose and feel as though they belong, which can be difficult when living at home as more people move away and mobility becomes more of an issue. Staff are on hand to help if the need should arise, which provides great peace of mind for family members, but your loved one will be able to continue to live their own lives and pursue their own hobbies and interests. The purpose is to help them to maintain their independence, dignity, and autonomy.
This is one step up from independent living. There is still a strong focus on autonomy and being part of the community, but your loved one will also have qualified medical help on hand to assist them as they need it. For example, they might get help with managing their medication or with personal care. The focus is on ensuring quality of life while maintaining an active lifestyle and resident autonomy.
It is a specialized type of care that has been formulated specifically for people who are experiencing memory problems through things like Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Staff monitor residents’ wellbeing and are on hand 24/7 to ensure their safety. At the same time, residents are encouraged to take part in activities and be involved in the community, which helps to improve quality of life and also has been shown to retain memory function for longer.