How do you support an aging loved one’s health? Get to know the basics of elderly health care by following these top 7 tips for caregivers.
With age comes wisdom, or so the saying goes.
But with age also comes certain health challenges. These include arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and so on.
As a caregiver, you know that one of the goals of elderly health care is to keep up with your aging loved one’s health needs. But that’s easier said than done.
There are so many things you have to keep track of – medications, doctor check-ups, dental visits, etc. It’s tough, but you can make it easier on yourself and your elderly loved one by following these 7 tips.
Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep
Do seniors need less sleep?
That’s a myth. They have the same sleep needs as the average person. But the problem is, many seniors have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
Now, this could be due to insomnia, which is sometimes a side effect of maintenance medications. Or it could be because of something else – sleep apnea, frequent urination, pain from arthritis, and so on.
Aside from consulting with a doctor, you can help your aging loved one sleep better by setting up a bedtime routine. The goal is to have them sleep at around the same time each night.
Make sure their bedroom is comfortable, cool, and quiet. And try your best not to let them stay up too late watching TV or give them coffee or alcohol in the evening.
Keep Them Active
Can’t find a senior-friendly gym in your area? No problem!
There are other ways for your elderly loved one to be more active. Walking, for example, is an effective form of exercise. It’s especially great for folks who have knee, ankle, and back issues.
And since it’s a low-impact workout, it can be done for longer periods of time. Other options to consider are swimming, Tai Chi, and even hobbies such as gardening.
Prioritize Good Nutrition
When you think about it, healthy living for seniors isn’t that much different from what the average adult should do to keep fit.
Everyone knows the importance of eating right, working out, and getting enough sleep. The same applies to seniors.
With the last two already covered, you can make sure your aging loved one is eating healthy by giving them lots of high-fiber fruits, veggies, and whole grains. As for protein, it’s best to stick to heart-healthy fish and lean meats.
Cook with olive or coconut oil, which are healthy fats. And don’t forget about hydration.
Remind them to drink enough liquids. But limit their intake of sugary and caffeinated drinks.
Focus on Prevention
The oft-repeated “Prevention is better than cure” is also one of the best senior wellness tips to keep in mind.
So don’t forget to take your loved one to the dentist every six months (or as often as their dentist recommends). Keep in mind that gum disease is linked to serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.
You should also make sure your loved one doesn’t miss any doctor appointments. If their doctor recommends preventative health screenings, as well as specific vaccines, get them.
It’s a must to ask questions during these visits. If you notice new symptoms, side effects from medications, or any health concerns, ask about them. Doctors cannot help your loved one if you keep these things to yourself.
Stimulate Their Mind
Some people think being forgetful is an inevitable part of growing old. But it doesn’t have to be that way for your aging loved one.
There are various strategies you can use to keep your loved one from mentally declining. You can encourage them to try new hobbies, learn a new language, do crossword puzzles, and so on.
Aside from stimulating their mind, it’s also important that you regularly check up on their mental health. If you see signs of anxiety or depression, don’t ignore them. Talk with your loved one’s doctor and see if they know a good therapist for seniors.
Encourage them to Socialize
Research shows that happiness could be the secret to a longer life for seniors.
But how exactly do you keep seniors happy? It will depend, of course, on the personality and preferences of your loved one.
Sounds difficult? You don’t need to be a professional entertainer to keep your aging loved one happy. And you don’t need to do everything by yourself.
Try to get them involved in social activities. Or if your community doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for senior socialization, you can seek help from these trusted experts.
Mind Their Safety
You can do your best to support your elderly loved one’s health. But if their place is a death trap, all your efforts will be useless.
So if you haven’t safety-proofed their home yet, do it now. Ask advice from professionals on what modifications or remodeling projects your loved one’s house needs.
Depending on their mobility and health issues, the fixes could be cheap, for example, a raised toilet seat or handrails for the bathroom. Or they could be complex and somewhat expensive such as installing a stair-climber or widening the halls and doorways.
Bonus: Elderly Health Care and You
While taking care of the health needs of your elderly loved one, make sure you’re not forgetting about yourself.
Caregiving is no joke. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting.
The good thing is most of the tips listed here are something you can apply to yourself. Don’t forget, you have to be healthy to take care of another person. So do your best to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat right.
Also, if you’re feeling burned out, talk to a therapist. If that’s not an option for you, consider joining caregiver support groups. You’ll feel better knowing that you’re not alone in your caregiving journey.
Looking for More Senior Care Tips?
Now that you know the basics of elderly health care, it’s best to build on what you’ve learned.
For more senior care tips and advice, feel free to browse our site.