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14 Ways to Take Care of Elderly People

- | 71 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Family & Parenting

a young man take care of elderly lady and dancing with her
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Have you come across people who take care of elderly people? Or perhaps you are taking care of elders at home, whether they are your parents, grandparents, or close family members.

Are you able to take care of your elders with ease and take it as a blessing, or do you think it’s a challenging task?

Very few of us happily accept the task of caring for our elders, and most tend to deny the simple fact that it’s coming.

I’ve often come across people who take care of their elders, but crib or tend to make issues about doing so.

While on the other hand, there are others who feel privileged that they have been given the chance to look after their parents or seniors.

Today’s post, though a little lengthy, is close to my heart as it makes me think about what I would do when my Dad or in-laws need me, because that day will come one day.

Will I be able to take care of them like a dutiful daughter or daughter-in-law? If so, what ways would I follow while taking care of them?

So, grab your cup of tea or coffee, think about your parents or elders, and imagine how you would take care of them while going through the post 🙂

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones-the ones at home.” ~ Mother Teresa

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The Need to Take Care of Elders

You too, at some point in your life may find yourself taking care of your parents or elderly members in your family, in the same way they cared for you. I’m sure like me, you too cannot forget that time.

Remember, it’s not easy for your elders, who were once independent, to become dependent on you or on others for their basic care.

You can never say what turn life may take. God forbid if a parent has a sudden accident or slips in the bathroom – would you really be in a state to handle such a situation?

I guess like me, you too might scramble to find emergency numbers, call the insurance company, and locate old hospital bills.

With all this chaos, you also need to handle your daily work, family and kids. Life can surely be tough at times, so you need to be geared up to face it – isn’t it?

You need to take care of the elders in your family in more ways than one. They need to be handled with care, love, affection, and need your full attention and patience.

Taking Care of Elderly People

Taking care of elders can be very stressful at times because you need to help them with their personal needs besides take care of the daily routine.

This could include –

  • Make preparations for medical care
  • Managing the finances
  • Organizing their medication
  • Providing healthy and safe surroundings
  • Arranging for adequate social interaction
  • Making provision for care when you are away
  • Consider their financial and emotional problems, besides how you deal with them at home, which can save you a lot of last-minute trouble – if the need arises.

For doing all of this, you need to remain healthy first. A number of studies show that caregivers or those who take care of elders may suffer from anxiety, depression, stress, and musculoskeletal disorder.

I’ve seen my Mom undergo a lot of stress when she used to look after her mother-in-law as she handled things single-handed.

So, please look after yourself before you start taking care of your parents or elders.

You can take care of yourself by dividing responsibilities between your spouse and yourself, or get other family members involved.

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And don’t forget to take breaks and enjoy your life also, which you can do by getting away for a while.

You would love to read more tips to help yourself, so that you can take care of your elders more efficiently.

Other than these, you need to take care of your elders by following these 14 ways mentioned below.

“One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.” ~ Jim Rohn

a young boy taking care of and loving his grandmother

Ways to Take Care of Elderly People

You need to plan well ahead about how you will be taking care of your seniors, and there are certain ways for doing that as mentioned below.

Equip Your Home

If you have elders staying at home, then you need to prepare the home for them. However, most seniors prefer staying on their own because they don’t want to be a burden on their kids.

In such cases, where they plan staying independently, you need to –

1- Make changes in the house

Making small changes in the house can save a lot of trouble. Like you can take care of the following –

  • Remove all kind of cluttered extra furniture lying around the house that might make it difficult for your elders to move around freely.
  • Have grab bars near the toilet and the shower. I know they don’t look good – but are a must.
  • Smoke detectors with a vibrate feature or with strobe lighting that can wake up seniors when conventional devices wouldn’t.
  • Antiscald devices for shower and faucets – as these protect older skin and prevent from serious burns. Or set the water heaters at 120 degrees – to a “low” temperature.
  • Ensure all cables and wires are tucked away to prevent slips or falls.
  • Install non-skid mats, strips, or pads in the toilet, bathtub or shower and other slippery areas of the house.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are suggested as elderly people are at risk to even a low concentration of the deadly gas.
  • Make sure there are night lights installed at strategic places around the house so that when your elders go to the bathroom or to fetch water at night, they can find their way around.

There’s a lot more you can add to the list, so do that in the comments section.

2- Keep track

If your parents or elders are going to be alone at home, you need to make them comfortable and safe.

Some families use products like QuietCare that relies on strategically placed motions sensors to keep track on their elders.

There are no microphones or cameras used so the privacy remains intact, and QuietCare calls if anything out of the ordinary takes place.

If your parents are tech savvy, then a mobile phone would be ideal, or then a website update every 2-3 hours would keep you less worried too.

3- Hire someone

Sometimes the distances are far and you aren’t able to be with your loved ones or elders, even though you want to.

In such cases, you can think of hiring a knowledgeable professional that you can locate from various agencies or places.

They can help by being a companion, besides helping out when your elders need them, or even take them to the doctor in case of emergencies.

I read about one such place here , though there must be many other such agencies depending where you are located. People in India can visit this website to get more information.

Thankfully, we get paid help our end if need be, though we need to get them registered with their proper identity proof before keeping them.

4- Cater for expenses

When you take care of your elders who aren’t living with you – you need to anticipate the expenses. To maintain their health and independence, you would need to pay for a few services.

These could be a helper of caretaker if any, and the amount they would charge. Or it could also cover their health charges, routine check-ups, and their daily expenditures – if they are dependent on you.

Some of you might find more answers on aging here, though it again depends on your location. People in India can visit here.

5- Visit them often

The time you spend with your elders makes a difference to them as they look forward to being with you.

Also, if you visit them often you would know whether they are safe, living well and emotionally sound too.

You can keep an eye open for any changes around – like if the house is unkempt, there are unopened mail lying around, plants not watered, soiled clothes, any bruises indicating they had a fall etc.

Make sure your elders have good neighbors that can keep checking in often.

Health and Safety

You need to ensure your elders are healthy and safe, and for doing that you need to take certain measures.

6- Regular exercise

It’s a well-known fact that if older people exercise regularly, they remain protected from diseases, and this makes them functionally younger by 10 to 15 years.

So, let then start with exercises that are initially light and something they can do, and later they can take up more depending on their capability.

I’m glad my Dad’s very health conscious. He plays golf daily, and is very particular about his daily walks, yoga, meditation, and following a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet too.

7- Be careful with medicines

Sometimes your elders who are living independently might have to be live under supervision due to poor medication management.

That’s because they see various specialists but take prescriptions from a single pharmacist, who might not be good and trustworthy.

You need to take care that the medications prescribed have no side-effects, and don’t interact with any other medicines.

Also, make sure that the pharmacist is honest and of repute, as sometimes they can repackage pills that shouldn’t be taken by making it look all new.

Another important point is to make sure your parents or elders don’t mix up their medicines, as with old age this problem does arise.

Reasons could me many again – poor eyesight, memory problems, sleepiness, or other health issues.

Sometimes, I’ve seen my Dad take some medicines that he was supposed to take at a different time because he was preoccupied.

What you can do is label the medicines and put them in separate drawers or compartments, making it easy for your parents or elders to find them.

8- Driving problems

It’s very tough to handle parents or elders at home and tell them not to drive, especially once age catches up and you see they aren’t able to drive as well as before.

You can see the changes when their cognitive abilities begin declining, reaction time lessens, body stiffens, and their driving gets erratic.

For your parents or seniors it’s rather depressing if they are told not to drive, and some even become stubborn enough and refuse to listen to you.

It’s best to sit and explain things to them, and if they still remain adamant suggest hiring a driver for them. Again, I’ve done the same for my Dad, even though he can drive – just being safe.

9- Stay away from scams

If your elders are staying away from you, they are vulnerable to a lot of scams. It could be anything from their telephone or mobile investments, to their usage of the credit card.

You should get your parents credits cards checked up periodically, and get to know if they haven’t landed in any scam. Don’t forget to keep track of their bills too.

Money Issues and Protection of Funds

Most elders retire and face financial distress, because they are living on a limited budget or fixed income. But you can help them feel better by the following ways.

10- Talk about finances

If your parents are dependent on you, then it makes sense to have open discussions about the monetary aspects.

Be open with them, seek their advice, suggest your ways, and chalk out something that works best for both sides.

You should be frank enough to let them know how much you can offer and see if it fits in well.

11- Documentation

You need to complete all the paper work beforehand, like the power of attorney, just in case it’s needed if your parents or elders can’t control their finances any longer.

It’s recommended that seniors add a second person with a detailed photograph, whether a friend or professional, who will also be there to keep a check on things.

Similarly, let your parents make their will and keep it in safe custody with the lawyer or with whomsoever they prefer. Your parents and elders also feel happier when all of this is done.

Socially Connected

With age setting in and their losses, many elders tend to become isolated and lonely, while others suffer from depression.

Take care of your elders and ensure that they somehow stay connected with the rest of the world.

12- Get them involved

The best way to reconnect them with the world is to get your elders involved. Now that they don’t have to manage kids or a career, most seniors like the opportunity to reach out and help others.

They have their years of wisdom to pass onto others, and they prefer doing this than sitting home doing nothing or just watching television.

Your parents or seniors could also join voluntary programs, or take part in educating those who need it – their way of helping others.

Sadly, there are a few elders who prefer remaining home, and this often leads to unhappiness, depression and other ailments. That’s because they feel they don’t have a purpose in life any longer.

Life doesn’t end when they get old, and that’s something you need to convey to them.

13- Make friends

If you are busy and can’t take care of your parents and elders, it’s good for them to make friends with people of their age group.

They can do so my mixing up with others and visiting clubs, or joining common hobby courses.

Small things like going for walks together, playing games or cards, shopping, or just talking can help your elders feel better.

Remember, at their age – its company they seek more than anything else. I see my mother-in-law in a similar situation, and often wish I could spend more time with her.

More so, if they have lost their spouse, their life can be very lonely.

14- Sharing meals

Your elders might have problems in preparing their own meals, or they might just lose interest in cooking. It could be due to lack of interest, depression, or other health issues.

I read about congregate meals that often takes place at senior centers. Such kinds of group meals are a lifeline to elders who aren’t able to prepare their own meals.

Moreover, they remain happy in the company of others who are also in a similar place and situation.

However, this isn’t much of a trend followed our end as we manage to hire people to cook, which eases out things.

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.” ~ Douglas MacArthur

a written pledge to take care and support the elderly

This is a  promise that each one of us must make to ourselves.

How You Can Take Care of Your Elders

Besides all the ways mentioned above, you can take care of your parents and seniors by being there for them.

Mostly, you and I tend to think of their physical needs, while their emotional, social, or psychological needs are often overlooked.

Keep in mind that with age their hearing, vision, touch, and other senses may not work as well as before, or they might decline with age.

So, make sure you speak louder, or come closer when you talk to them. Also, they are more sensitive to pain and touch – so take care.

Be sensitive and discreet about their troubles, especially when they begin losing their memory and bodily functions. It’s more frustrating for them than for you. So, be kind and understanding.

Also, it can become hard for your parents or elders to see their own kids or grandkids keep away from them because they find them boring, old, or uninteresting.

The very same children and grandchildren whom they have loved and nurtured all these years sometimes turn against them.

Remember, they are your parents or elders and are already undergoing a lot. They are struggling with major and minor life changes, or they might be ailing and having other health issues.

Just a few words of encouragement from you and a little time of yours to talk to them could lift their moods and spirits.

It will make them happy and raise their self-esteem, and once that happens, they will be more productive and feel good about themselves.

All of this pepping up will make them forget their problems and worries, and makes their lives more colorful.

And I think each one of you owes this much to your parent or elder – don’t you? Is it asking for too much to take care of your seniors?

So, reach out and love your elders – for they have loved and cared for you all these years, and now it’s your turn. You will only be happy you did, and remember, they aren’t with you forever. 🙂

“The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.” ~ Andy Rooney

Over to you –

Do you have anyone in your family whom you have taken care of? What ways do you suggest to take care of your parents, elders, or seniors? Share in the comments. Do share this post – just in-case anyone needs help.

 

Photo Credit: daoro , groenbaekSchristia

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71 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Jessica

    June 23, 2015 at 12:13 am

    I agree, we talk of our grandparents who are within the same country and at a short distance or near to our place, but what about those who live overseas or are just left to live their own lives – I feel so sorry for them. Just wish more people could understand and value their parents and keep them with them till their last days, or take care of them in their best ways instead of just letting them lead an isolated life. We need to remember that how we treat our parents is how our kids will treat us, because they notice everything we do and say – so we need to watch ourselves.

  2. Shawn

    May 1, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    WOW very helpful tips to take care of elderly people and I had to note down these tips.

  3. joni

    August 7, 2013 at 9:48 am

    What an awesome article!

    My mother is now 89 years old and living in a care home but after her stroke in ’99 she moved up north to live with us for 6 years during her recovery. While it was extremely difficult doing 24/7 care for her after her stroke I wouldn’t have changed it for the world! It was an honour looking after her ever need and getting to know her so closely again. 🙂

    It’s hard living 1000 miles away and only being able to fly down 2-3 times per year to see her. I just got back yesterday from being down there for a week helping her, visiting and showing her my love and appreciation for my dear mother. She’s deteriorated a bit during the past 5 months since I last saw her and that just makes me want to spend more time with her.

    I have nothing but admiration for all the nursing staff in care homes… such loving, caring people! 🙂

  4. Sally Brown

    June 19, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Hi Leena,

    Such an awesome post. As a young girl, I always watched out for my 90+ grandmother. I took her strawberry picking (wild strawberries), weeded her flowers and spent time with her.

    This gave me a real love for the elderly. As an RN, I loved working with the older population. This post is so compassionate and full of helpful information. Sally

  5. David Miller

    May 30, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    This is one of the most informed and compassionate posts I have read in a long while on taking care for the elderly. Although society is preoccupied with medical fixees for ageing nothing compares with thoughtful and loving care. Your post illustrates this perfectly.

  6. Osho Garg

    May 21, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Very informative post how to take care of elderly people.

    Elderly people are the members of our family, society. So we can’t ignore them as they are old. But I see in lots of family when they grow old young people send them old home. It is very shocking. We must respect them & salute them as they raise for long years. Now its our turn to give them same respect.

  7. Oscar

    April 26, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    This is really an interesting blog post here, learning how to take care of elderly people is fun. Thanks.

    • Harleena Singh

      May 1, 2013 at 11:36 am

      Welcome to the blog Oscar!

      Glad you liked this post about how to take care of elderly people.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  8. Ilka Flood

    March 27, 2013 at 4:07 am

    Hi Harleena,

    I’m kind of glad I never had to deal with that. I lost my mom at a very young age and I wasn’t around when my father died. (We weren’t close.) So in a way I was spared. However, I did take care of my mom for the five years she battled cancer and was in and out of the hospital. When she was home I took care of her and when she was in the hospital I went there every night after work to see her.

    I hope when Randy and my time comes our boys will take good care of us. That’s my only concern. I don’t think I would last very long in a nursing home. But then again, of course I wouldn’t want to be a burden either. Guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too, can you. So my greatest wish is to stay healthy in body and mind and then die peacefully in my sleep when my time is up.

    Ilka

    • Harleena Singh

      March 27, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Hi Ilka,

      I’m glad to hear that, though sorry that you lost your Mom at that young an age. It must’ve been tough to see her suffer – I can relate to it well enough having lost my Mom to cancer too. But I was married with my kids at that time, and she wasn’t really in the hospital for long though the treatment carried on for long from home. I guess seeing our loved ones suffer in any way is painful for us.

      Absolutely! That’s the concern of most parents, and we all hope and pray that our kids take care of us when our time comes, just like we took care of our parents. Most of us do cater to the financial aspect during our lifetime so that we don’t burden our kids later, but we really can’t be sure of how things turn out when the time comes – can we?

      I agree, it’s best to look after ourselves right now so that we remain healthy and there isn’t much of suffering later. Ah…your thoughts are so much like mine – in so many ways as that’s what I also wish for – a peaceful end giving no trouble to anyone. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us. 🙂

  9. I. C. Daniel

    March 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Hey there Harleena,

    Because I went through some life steps I wanted to reply to a certain topic and if you can advice me would be great or if you have the answer I looking for written suggest me that article if not next time you post think about what I ask below. Thanks in advance!

    So… My mother’s parents died five years ago… what a nightmare. I can’t describe now. 🙁

    My father’s father died last year, had only 69 years can you believe this… the doctor said he had heart problems, our families have suffered and continue to suffer from these facts. 🙁

    Why is life so short? Why do people have to die?

    What will I do when my parents die? (I want personal advice for this question if you can give me.)

    This thought terrifies me strong. Any help is appreciated.

    Best regards from I.C.Daniel – Romania

    • Harleena Singh

      April 3, 2013 at 8:39 am

      Hi Daniel,

      I’m sorry for what you and your family have gone through. However, death is an unavoidable fact of life. Whatever takes birth, has to die. Sooner or later we all have to die. We should accept this certainty with dignity and not be afraid or disturbed from this eventuality. We should never be perturbed about matters which are not in our control.

      What we can do is try to adopt the right lifestyle, be conscious of our health, practice activities that maintain our mental health, and take all the appropriate actions that benefit us in all aspects of life. We have the chances of delaying our death and suffering by taking such measures.

      You can ask me questions and I’m willing to offer you my personal advice if that helps you, though I’d like you to use the “Contact Form” to send me your problems, and I shall deliver the answer by email.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      • I. C. Daniel

        April 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

        Thanks for reply Harleena

        To be honest with you, I’m very afraid about this fact, I have too sisters younger than me, certainly I take care of them for over 5 years by now. Our parents work in Spain, we live in Romania, things here are not the same as there so our parents work there for 6 years by now. They send us money every month, for school and food and for other little things.

        I will try to beat this fear, however is going to be very hard. Once again thank you for your reply. Best regards from Romania.

  10. Cathy Taughinbaugh

    March 25, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Great post on helping our elders. I’ve experienced taking care of my mom for about the past 8 years. She is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and needs lots of care now. It has been a challenge at times, but rewarding to know that we can help our parents when the time comes. My mother does live in a bed and board home with 5 other residents. She seems free of pain and comfortable, but has lost her ability to speak or walk, and now needs help with eating. We all want the end of life experience to be a warm and comforting for our parents so that they have the care that they deserve. Thank you for your informative post on this important topic.

    • Harleena Singh

      March 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Cathy,

      Glad you liked the post. 🙂

      Sorry to hear about your Mom because I can understand how Alzheimer’s gets with time, and all that you must have undergone while taking care of her in such a state – it’s surely not easy.

      Yes, I think we are blessed when we get the opportunity to take care of our parents and elders – in whatever way possible. Perhaps living with other residents your Mom would be feeling better, though I’m sure you would be nearby if need be. I guess now with time she needs more care and special attention, especially with this dreaded diseases.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with all of us. 🙂

  11. Donna Merrill

    March 23, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Harleena!Another epoch post!

    This is one subject that most of us will have to face. I faced it a year ago with my father-in-law. If we are not equipped with all you mentioned above, we can easily “loose it.” Our home had to first be de-clutterd as you mentioned above. We had a medical bed, and all the necessities put in place. It was a 24/7 job. However, the care taker needs respite. We did hire someone to give us that. If you are not prepared for taking care of an elderly person, you are going to hit a brick wall! You have given wonderful suggestions and even though I went through the process, I cannot add another thing. This life lesson taught me to take care of myself. I do not want to be a burden to any of my kids! Thank you for this wonderful job you have done! Donna

    • Harleena Singh

      March 27, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

      You are right – sooner or later all of us are going to pass through this phase of life, or take care of our elders and parents at home.

      I can understand how tough it must have all been for you when you were taking care of your father-in-law, and it sure is a FULL time job. Yes, you do need help or else you would stress yourself out and that really would be of no help.

      It makes sense to be prepared, just in-case such a situation comes up, and you really lose nothing to keep things ready – isn’t it? You’re right – we need to take care of ourselves and not really burden our kids, and this is exactly how our parents or elders feel too. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views with us. Enjoy your weekend. 🙂

  12. Aditya

    March 22, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Hey Harleena,

    It’s been long since I’ve read you.

    My mom is on the way to this stage. I never noticed it but the signs are becoming more evident with every passing day.

    As you well know, that I’ve been quite an angry person some time ago but with my mom’s aging, I’ve mellowed down quite a lot and that is in turn making me matured.

    Some very tiny moments, which seem very trivial to me maker her very happy.

    All in all I’m learning a lot in every aspect of life and taking care of my mom is one where I’m learning a lot. Superb post, thanks for sharing it!

    Aditya

    • Harleena Singh

      March 23, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Aditya – nice to have you back 🙂

      I can understand, and you’re surely not alone because everyone is going to pass through this stage one day or another.

      Nice to know that you’ve changed to a mellower person now, and that happens with age and also because you feel for your Mom more than anything else – isn’t it?

      I agree, it’s the small things of life that give our elders happiness, which we often tend to ignore. For us they might be trivial, but they could mean the world to them. I guess just keeping this in mind can make a difference to their lives. I’m happy you are there for your Mom and doing your bit. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us. 🙂




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14 Ways to Take Care of Elderly People

by Harleena Singh time to read: 12 min