Parenting & Family

How To Help Support Aging Loved Ones

It is hard to imagine a time where you’re once strong and able loved ones who cared for you will be the ones leaning on you for help and assistance. Yet as they age both their mental and physical capabilities are likely to decline and they will turn to you for help and support. Of course, not every aging member of society needs additional help but the fact is an overwhelming majority of elderly people will look to their nearest and dearest for some degree of assistance as they age. 

Sometimes providing this support can be a straightforward affair that requires little input. It might be that you help to provide transportation or to arrange for shopping or household chores to be taken care of. However, there will be times where family members find themselves taking on quite a lot of additional responsibilities. This is often because loved ones are losing their ability to remain independent and as such require greater assistance with day-to-day activities. While many relatives are happy and willing to help it can still be an additional responsibility to an already full and committed life. 

To ensure you are fully prepared with all the facts here is a list of some of the most common areas and issues that elderly relatives typically need additional help and support. 

Safety 

Safety comes in many forms and can be a real concern for the elderly. Ensuring your elderly relatives remain safe can include addressing issues such as any driving concerns or financial vulnerability they may have. It could also involve ensuring their safety around the home and whether they are prone to falls or slips or trips. Additions such as grab rails, stairlifts, and walking aids can help make all the difference both in terms of their safety and confidence when remaining mobile. Other safety devices that could help to alleviate worries are to install an alarm system or wearable panic button that alerts a manned mains system should they have fallen or be in danger.

Daily activities 

Daily activities are the most common area where relatives start to notice a decline in independence. Typically elderly relatives start to need assistance with just a few of their usual activities but as matters progress so can their reliance on others. 

Initially, you might expect your elderly relatives to need a bit of extra help with certain self-care tasks that typically require a degree of thinking and organization such as; 


Transportation; they may no longer feel confident or safe driving and need help with transportation.

Shopping; this can become a taxing task for the elderly who have limited means of transportation and are unable to carry lots of shopping.

Home maintenance; this could be anything from keeping things clean and tidy to keep things in good working order.

Finances; paying bills and managing their finances may start to become overwhelming or difficult.

Communication; staying on top of evolving technology and means of communication can often be daunting.

Medication; obtaining and taking medication as directed often requires additional support. 

Should their health decline further and their independence be further compromised you can expect elderly relatives to need additional help with more basic self-care tasks such as; 

Walking; remaining mobile is incredibly important but can become difficult in older years and extra support may be required to ensure mobility remains intact. 

Bathing; this includes being able to access facilities such as getting in and out of a bath or shower to ensure they are able to remain washed. 

Dressing and grooming; this requires elderly relatives to be able to select appropriate clothing, get dressed and manage their appearance. 

Feeding; ensuring that they are able to successfully feed themselves. 

Mobility; are they able to get themselves into a standing position from a bed or chair?

If you are concerned that your elderly relatives are unable to independently manage some of the more basic self-care tasks then it may be time to consider what additional support they need. Support that you might not be able to give. It could be that they would benefit from the assistance of visiting professional carers or perhaps would be better suited to an elderly care home. While you may feel you want to take care of them yourself sometimes the best thing you can do for them and you are to ask for help.

Alternatively, if you feel your aging relatives may need help with some aspects of their daily self-care but remain independent consider whether an assisted living facility would offer them the support and reassurance they need. Assisted living can offer many benefits for the elderly and their family members alike. It can reduce the level of responsibility family members may feel when it comes to caring for their elderly relatives and it can help give them peace of mind knowing that their nearest and dearest are being well looked after, and remain safe. For the elderly relatives, it can be a new lease on life that provides them with a social community, giving them the opportunity to build friendships and a social life that can help stimulate and entertain them. It can help ease the feelings of the burden they may harbor toward those who have been providing them with additional support and it may also help them feel safer and more independent. If you feel both you and your aging relatives may benefit from assisted living then start a conversation and do your research into the best city for assisted living.

Medical and health issues

Unfortunately, as you age medical concerns become much more common. Older adults find themselves experiencing chronic conditions that require medication, monitoring, and professional management. Older adults may also develop symptoms or health concerns that they may need support identifying, diagnosing, and managing. What is more, as elderly people are more susceptible to health complaints they also will experience a greater need for recovery and may need extra help during that recovery period. Finally, another concern where health is involved is that some serious illnesses can cause older adults to lose the ability to make sound health decisions and in turn require help from family members or professionals. Health issues are something that needs to be taken very seriously in older years and one of the best ways to alleviate some of the pressures is to plan in advance. While nobody likes talking about it knowing the wishes of your relatives will be important if it falls on your to make important health decisions. It may be that steps are taken to formalize their wishes by way of a medical directive that sets out their wishes should they be unable to make their own decisions. 

Legal and financials 

Managing legal matters and financial affairs is a serious responsibility for any adult but the task can get more daunting as you age and potentially lose a bit of confidence. What is more elderly people can become more likely to be exposed to financial exploitation, which can adversely affect their confidence when it comes to making financial or legal decisions. 

To make matters easier once again the best thing that can be done is to plan ahead and complete all of the necessary paperwork to make it easier for family members to be able to assist with legal and financial matters. It may be by way of giving authority for chosen relatives to act on their behalf in certain situations or, again, something more formal by way of legalizing responsibility through the courts, should it become necessary. Setting out clear directives and instructions is another great way to ensure their wishes are carried out should they be unable to do so themselves. 

Relationships

As the dynamics of your relationship change, it can start to have an adverse effect on your relationship. No matter how well-intentioned your support might be it can sometimes put a strain on the relationship. Relatives may feel as though they are losing their autonomy or independence or being pushed into things they may not want or be ready for. While this may not be the case it can present certain hurdles not only to providing the care or receiving the care that is needed but also on the family and relationship dynamic. While there is no easier answer and it may take time to adjust to the new set up one of the best things you can do to smooth the transition is to keep the lines of communication open. To openly discuss as much about any changes or support as you can, this will help make sure everyone is on the same page and happy. If for any reason there is discontent then be open to discussing the options and consider all points of view. It may be that you call upon other family members, friends, or professionals for advice and assistance to help navigate through a new, difficult, and uncertain period for everyone. 





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