It is estimated that in 2020 there were 53 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States and 79% of those caregivers were providing care for an adult ages 50+. (Caregiving in the U.S.: A Focused Look at Family Caregivers) If you are a caregiver, you are far from alone. And if you aren’t a caregiver, you most likely know at least one person who is.
Providing care to an older loved one comes with its own unique set of challenges. At Abramson Senior Care, we work closely with family caregivers to offer advice, support and care throughout all of our services. Below is some general advice for caregivers of the elderly. For a free in-depth consultation, please call Abramson Care Advisors at 215.371.3400.
As a caregiver, your job will be made much easier if the environment in which you are providing care is arranged safely for your older loved one. Consider the following:
- Trip hazards. Falls can have serious consequences for seniors. Look around their place of residence to make sure that trip hazards are remedied. Clear the floor of clutter, arrange furniture so there is always a clear path through rooms, and tape down the edges of any area rugs. Additionally, you may need to look into a stair lift to help your loved one go up and down any stairs in the home.
- Bathroom. Adding rails in the shower and around the toilet can help your loved one safely maneuver around the bathroom. Keep towels close to the bathtub so they do not have to reach far when their shower or bath is over.
- Accessibility. Look around the home and make sure that objects used regularly are easy for your loved one to reach. For example, maybe kitchen cabinets can be reorganized so that items used every day are on the lower shelves.
- Lighting. Make sure rooms are brightly lit. Consider adding extra lamps if rooms in the home tend to be dark. Open the blinds during the day to let in sunlight. Put nightlights in bedrooms, hallways and bathrooms.
As you go about your day with your loved one, there are some simple steps to take to make the it go as smoothly as possible, including:
- Lay out your loved one’s clothes in the order they need to go on.
- Engage your loved one in activities that you can both do together. Listen to music or an audio book, watch a favorite movie, put together a puzzle, or go for a walk if they can do so safely.
- If your loved one has dementia, try and keep to a fairly regular routine. This can help reduce confusion, fears, and the sundowning many with dementia experience.
- Help them manage their medication by using a daily pill box. Additionally, there are special alarms and dispensers that can be bought that can remind your loved one which medications to take and when they should be taken.
- As much as possible, include your loved one in decisions about their care and routine. Keeping an open conversation can make your loved one feel more in control and help to reduce any negative behaviors.
Taking care of the caregiver
Caregivers often put their own self-care last. However, you will be at your best if you take time for yourself – to do the things that you love or to get any help if you are struggling with all of your responsibilities.
- Carve out time for yourself during the day. Take a walk, read a book, meditate, enjoy a nice bubble bath – anything that brings you joy if even for just a few minutes.
- Ask for help. If you have other family members or friends with the ability to help provide care, reach out and see if they could assist so that you have a support team behind you.
- Consider joining a support group. Support groups offer a great opportunity to connect with others who are dealing with the same stresses and concerns. Abramson Senior Care offers a number of free groups for caregivers. Many are being held virtually so that caregivers do not need to find care coverage for their loved one.
- Make sure the right professional supports are in place for your loved one. The right care team can help relieve the stress of trying to manage all aspects of your loved ones care. Maybe a home care aide can provide assistance with activities of daily living or palliative care services can make sure that your loved one is living as comfortably as possible. Our Care Advisors can assess your needs, let you know what is covered under your loved one’s health insurance, and help you get the services in place that will best help your family.
Abramson Care Advisors provides free elder care advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 215.371.3400 today.