It is projected the number of Americans older than 65 will double by 2060. A rise in the number of aging adults also means a rise in the need for caring for those adults.
Caring for older individuals requires understanding, patience, and love. And while it can be challenging juggling caregiving for senior citizens with the rest of your life demands, it can also be rewarding and fulfilling.
Here are some basic guidelines that can help make caring for older adults easier.
1. Create a Daily Schedule
Recent studies have shown that establishing daily routines can help reduce anxiety and boost happiness in elderly loved ones.
This is especially true for older individuals who may be experiencing the stress of not being able to have the independence they used to have.
Try to schedule tasks (such as eating meals and showering) around the same time each day. Be sure to include activities that the person enjoys in the daily schedule, and allow them as much independence as safely possible.
2. Be Flexible and Expect Change
Even with a daily routine set, it is important for the caregiver to be flexible and expect changes.
Growing older comes with an ever-changing set of challenges, and the caregiver needs to be able to handle changes with grace and compassion.
3. Ensure Social Inclusion for Older Adults
Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to many serious health conditions in older adults, including increased rates of anxiety, depression, dementia, and even increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
When possible, make time for social activities both in and outside the home. If mobility allows, exercise and walking clubs are great options. Or art classes or book clubs might be a good fit.
4. Ask for Help
Sometimes, it is best to know when caregiving should be turned over to professionals. There are many options in elderly care facilities, depending on the independence level of the adult.
Older loved ones that require medical surveillance may fare best in a nursing home. Those that need less assistance may enjoy an assisted living community.
And those that wish to stay in their homes may be able to do so with the help of a home health care professional.
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5. Caring for the Caregiver
Finally, it is important to remember that caregiving can be taxing for the caregiver, and to take some time to make sure your own needs are being met.
Caregivers should set realistic goals in what they can provide, stay connected to others (a support group can provide much-needed validation), and accept help when needed.
Challenges and Rewards
Caring for older adults can have its challenges, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Older adults deserve compassion and care to live out their lives in dignity and comfort. We need to take care of our seniors!
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