Are We Doing Enough For The Health Of Our Older Loved Ones?
Every generation has to deal with it. We’re seeing our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents get older. With that age comes less capability. If you’re stepping up to take responsibility and help them, then you’re doing a great thing. But are you taking as active a role in their health as possible? Aging gracefully, happily, and healthily is something we should all aspire to. Why not do what’s in your power to ensure that your older relatives are given that chance?
Trust is crucial
One of the things about helping our older ones remain healthy is that they might not always be wholly willing to cooperate. Some people want to maintain more independence than they’re readily able to. Some might be scared to look at the realities of health problems they’re undergoing. Fostering trust with them is more important than anything. Without it, you might not be able to help them as much as you would like to. Finding the right time and context to have those conversations is important. Take the time to enjoy their company, relax with them, and then ask after their wellbeing. Make sure that you’re listening to their opinions and offering options and alternatives, not just appearing like you’re trying to force them down one path. Be patient with them and don’t give up. Trust works in layers and we might not be used to trusting people besides our doctors with sensitive health information.
Focus on independence
One of the easiest ways to get them on side with your concerns is to make it clear that you want to help them live as independently as they can. This will depend, of course, on the condition and capabilities of the person in particular. But besides ensuring they’re eating right and exercising, you can make changes to their home so that they can still use with less assistance necessary. Helping them maintain their sense of dignity is important. Try and skim over it and you’ll only find yourself facing even more resistance.
Help them navigate health care
As we get older, we are likely to need more trips to the doctor, but sometimes we’re also less able to fully understand the instructions and information we’re given. If your older loved one has difficulty retaining facts or keeping on top of their healthcare, then you can take a more active role in it. Accompany them to doctor visits. Allow them to take the lead, but don’t be afraid to ask questions for information they might have missed. Take the time to communicate and ensure they understand as best as they can what is recommended. It’s a good idea to keep track of immunizations and routine checks as well. Most importantly, ensure that you have your parents’ permission to accompany them and talk with the doctor. You need to be able to provide the doctor with proof of that permission to sit in with them.
The changing face of exercise
One of the biggest problems we face as we age is finding ways to stay active and keep fit. To retain more mobility and independence, an active lifestyle is essential. However, our decreasing physical capabilities need to be taken into account. It’s a good idea to visit the doctor with your loved one simply to get a full understanding of how much mobility and exercise they are able to handle. Then it’s about finding ways to stay fit that fit those capabilities. Whether it’s walking, golfing, or simply sit-down exercises, you should be able to find some way to ensure that they’re getting the exercise vital to them.
The danger of isolation
As important as physical fitness and health are mental and emotional health. For one, they are very linked. Stress, depression, and anxiety in older age are considered risk factors for everything from heart disease to dementia. One of the greatest sources of those emotional health concerns is the growing isolation that comes from losing friends over the years. While you might be as present as you can be, you have to accept the important role that maintaining further social relationships plays. Help your loved one look for new opportunities to meet peers, from joining hobby groups to volunteering in their spare time as much as their health allows.
You don’t have to do it all alone
As our loved ones’ capabilities decrease further, you will find that they are in need of more sustained care. This puts pressure on their loved ones, like you, but it’s important to know that there are options available to help cope with the growing demands on you. Caregivers’ allowances, for instance, can provide financial help, while care homes like McKnight Place don’t necessarily mean you have to take a backseat in caring for their health. You can still help them find ways to keep them healthy and happy with services like physical, occupational and art therapy. It’s important to know when you need some help.
Take care of yourself
One of the reasons you should be willing to look for and accept help is because of the serious risk of caregiver burnout. It is not an uncommon phenomenon for those taking care of older loved ones to suffer physical and emotional exhaustion. In the worst-case scenarios, it can make it hard to be as loving and considerate as you would want to be. Be aware of the risks and when you’re overextending yourself. You might think you’re doing your best to help your loved one, but it could cause irreparable damage to your long-term relationship if you’re not careful. Be aware that you need a break and time for a personal life of your own. Make sure you’re staying healthy through your own needs for exercise, proper nutrition, and sleep as well.
It can be demanding to ensure that your loved one is able to grow old as peacefully and happily as possible. Hopefully, this article gives you some ideas to ensure that that is the case. We would want our younger relatives to do the same for us, wouldn’t we?
Image Credit: Old Man