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Things to Consider When Caring for an Elderly Relative

Things to Consider When Caring for an Elderly Relative

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

The UK population is undergoing a massive shift, in terms of age groups. There are over 11 million people aged 65 and in ten years’ time this will have increased to 13 million people, 22% of the population. This means that more than ever, we’re going to have a generation which requires care. Not everyone can afford to hire outside help and some people are uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger in their home, so a lot of care duties are falling to family members, rather than professionals. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of things that you need to think about when caring for an elderly relative:

Accessibility

While mobility isn’t always an issue, many people get to an age where they need some help in navigating their own home, even if it’s just to give you peace of mind that they’re safe when you aren’t there. Installing a Stairlift can make a huge difference, especially if the only bathroom is upstairs, as this will give your elderly relative some extended independence when it comes to using a toilet. Choosing a Stairlift may seem like a huge, daunting task but there is a lot of information out there designed to help you to make the right choice.

Opt for Some Easier Meal Options

Nutrition is essential for elderly people; a sumptuous, hot and nutritious meal can go a long way in helping to fight disease, maintain good health and prevent malnutrition. However, making every meal from scratch takes time and effort and sometimes, you simply don’t have the energy. This is where you can turn to the benefit of ready-made meals. These provide a steady and consistent flow of nutrition for your elderly relative and boost their overall health without weighing you down or adding extra pressure. Just be sure to keep an eye on the salt content, as some ready meals are high in sodium, which is not good for the elderly. Bulk cooking and freezing extra portions of their favourite home cooked meals can also help to lessen the pressure.

You’re Important Too!

When you spend so much time looking after someone else, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. But it won’t do either of you any good if you burn out, and there are easy ways to stop things from getting out of hand. Setting health goals, for example. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep (at least 7 hours, if you can) and eating a healthy and balanced diet (including taking on plenty of water). Try to give yourself a few hours throughout the week for physical activity, too. It’ll help get you in shape and out of the house.

Communication

Another thing that keeps your parent safe is the ability to easily call for help and keep in touch with family and friends. On top of being a safety hazard, isolation and loneliness have a serious negative effect on overall health. Make sure their phone is easy to use and easily accessible. For some, keeping a simple mobile phone with pre-programmed numbers in their pocket is reassuring and easier to get to. Or, if your parent is open to the idea, consider a wearable medical alert device.

Keep Medications Well Organised

Get to know what medication your parents and relatives take, in what order and how often. Set up on a repeat prescription and if it is physically easier, have the prescription delivered to their home. If they are on a number of medications, buy a pill box organiser with compartments labelled with the days of the week as well as AM/PM doses. You can now buy automatic pill dispensers which help with reminders and built-in safety features, and there are also some elderly care apps which help to remind people to take medication, which can massively help to reduce your mental load.

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