How to Care For Your Elderly Relative

Emily Burton

If you have an elderly parent or relative in your life, chances are you've found yourself increasingly concerned about their wellbeing. Whether they still live on their own, with you, or they've made the transition into a nursing home, some challenges face them in their daily life. This article will give you a few great ways to make sure they're getting the best possible care, whatever their situation is.

1. Aging in Place

If your elderly relative is still living in their own home, it's possible that navigating their home is getting increasingly difficult. Many floor plans and doorways were made without the intention of wheelchair accessibility or for residents with limited mobility, so if your relative is certain they want to remain at home, some changes may have to be made. Aging in place is often desirable for older people who still have friends nearby and would be significantly troubled by moving away.

Aging in place will mean installing ramps for thresholds, widening doorways for a wheelchair, and installing a mobile stairlift dolly or some other kind of stair climbing device. You may also want to install alert systems in case of emergencies, especially if your relative lives alone, and make appropriate modifications to the kitchen and bathrooms. This process can be expensive, depending on the original structure of the house, but aging in place can be desirable and has a lot of benefits that might make the cost worth it for your relative.

2. Moving Them In

You might come to the conclusion that the best scenario for your relative would be to move them into your own home. Particularly if they require some attentive care, it might be the most inexpensive long term solution for everyone. This transition can be tricky, especially if they're accustomed to a degree of independence, or if their needs are demanding.

If your relative's needs are particularly demanding, such as being wheelchair-bound or developing dementia, you may benefit from joining a support group and taking a few basic classes to learn how to care for them properly. You're taking on a difficult job that will leave you feeling drained and exhausted if you don't take the proper precautions. Remember, the decision for your relative to move in should be what's best for everyone involved, so don't take on a task you aren't prepared to handle. Other options exist that may be a better option in the long run.

3. Choosing a Nursing Home

If you and your relative come to the conclusion that it's time for them to move into a nursing home, you'll want to know what to look for as you do your research. Take the time to tour the facility, getting your relative's opinion if possible, and make sure it's an environment where they'll thrive. A nursing home can be a great option for your relative if they need lots of care and attention, and they'll be surprised to find increased independence in a facility where everything has been built with their particular needs in mind.

After they've moved in, stay involved by getting to know the activity schedule and amenities offered. Visiting frequently will also help you to know that your relative is receiving the best possible care, and will help you to know if their health is benefiting from the situation. The elderly often need someone to advocate for them, particularly if they are unable to speak up for themselves, so this responsibility is one you should take seriously. Be prepared for some stress during the move-in period, as leaving behind familiar surroundings and personal possessions can be incredibly difficult.

Caring for an aging relative can be tricky and emotionally tough. But by taking on this challenge, you'll help your relative to make the transition into old age knowing that they're cared for and won't need for anything, and you'll be able to rest easy knowing you've done all you can.