By: Joy Beller Shore, director, care management programs
At the Abramson Center, our Care Advisors answer all types of questions related to aging, from help with Medicare and Medicaid to identifying the best care options for an elderly loved one. However, some questions come up more than others, especially with regard to caregiving. To help you navigate the challenges of caring for your loved one, here are some tips and advice.
Signs your loved one needs additional assistance
One question that many people have is how to tell when it is time to get your loved one extra help. Some signs that may indicate assistance is needed include:
- Frequent falls
- Leaving appliances on unattended
- Dressing inappropriately for the weather
- Poor personal hygiene
- Poor eating habits or weight loss
- Anxiety or depression
- Deterioration of physical condition
- Accumulation of mail, laundry, or trash in the home
- Life changing event, such as the loss of a spouse
- Noticeable differences after not seeing the senior for a length of time
- Recent unexpected hospitalizations that may have made the safety of returning home questionable
Role of the family
As your parents or other elderly loved ones age, family dynamics may change. Coping with the changes can be very stressful for all involved. To help ease the transition, the Alzheimer’s Association offers guidelines to avoid conflict and tensions among family members. Some suggestions include:
- Listen to each family member with respect. Not everyone involved will view the situation in the same way.
- Discuss caregiving responsibilities. Work together to find out where each person can best provide assistance.
- Continue to talk to each other through regular scheduled meetings or calls.
- Seek outside help. Consider joining a support group or talking to a trusted third party.
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While providing care for an elderly loved one can be very rewarding for family members, it can also be stressful and time consuming. Here are some important points to remember about in-home senior heath care:
- Juggling caregiving with other responsibilities is when many caregivers find that they are the most stressed. In addition to caring for a family member, caregivers may have to balance a job, their own children, and tending to their home. At work, speak to your supervisor about what is going on in your life. You may be able to work from home or to take some leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. To make things easier at home, consider keeping a list of the most important things you need to do. This can help you organize what needs to get done and where you need help.
- With caregiving, there are many areas to discuss in order to decide who the best person to provide care is. Family members must determine who is going to be the primary caregiver. Who has the most time available? What is the best care setting for the senior? When will changes be made and how? Having these discussions early on will help minimize stress and confusion down the road. It will also ensure that your loved one receives smooth care transitions.
- Get support. The most important thing for caregivers to remember is to ask for help when needed. The sooner you get the assistance you need, the better for your health and the health of your loved one. There are caregiver support services available to help you talk through any struggles and to find companionship with others who understand what you are going through. A geriatric care management service can help you arrange doctor’s appointments, evaluate your loved one’s needs and find the right support.
Caregiving can be a very rewarding experience for many family members. However, there are many challenges and obstacles, as well. Putting the right support systems in place can help ease transitions and make the journey smooth. And remember, any time you need help, you can click the link to contact an Abramson Care Advisor now, or by calling 1-888-340-0080, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help with questions and concerns.