Caring for a loved one who is already, or at least getting, old can be extremely difficult. There is an awful lot to consider in terms of how you, as the carer, are actually going to manage the care and if there are any other care options that might be better for your loved one.
Here are just a few tips, mixed in with some important concerns that you should most definitely consider before making your final decision about care for your elderly relative:
1. Looking after their finances
This is one of the most important things to consider since it can have a huge effect on the state of their care and also your own life, if you choose to be the carer. You will need to take a long hard look at all their finances before making your final decision on what care your loved one is going to have.
Their finances need to be in order, so this might take some initial work on your part. You will also need to know what their wishes are in the event of any emergency concerning their health and you need to check they have made their Will. After all, they may not want you to care for them; they may prefer the idea of a home.
You cannot go against their wishes, although this may also depend on what they can actually afford. Help will be available from your loved one’s local authority, depending on certain assessments into your relative’s health. If you do decide to take on the care yourself, you will also need to check your own finances are in order and that you can afford to take on another mouth, as well as all the responsibilities that come with being a carer.
2. Make sure you can give them a familiar and social environment
One of the most crucial things to know when taking on the care of an elderly person is to know how important routine is. You’ve got to think about how they have been living their own life for years and now suddenly everything has changed for them. It can be scary.
They might be moving into your home, where everything’s different and they might end up feeling a lot less secure. To combat this, you can make sure they are in a familiar environment by making sure they have their very own space, with all their favourite goods around them.
It is also important to make sure they are not secluded. Even if your loved one can no longer get about as much on their own, such as going for walks and meeting their friends, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to. It’s important for you to organise a bit of social time, at least once a day so they can interact with others and there is a bit of variety to each day.
3. Caring for them physically
When you are deciding whether or not you can be their carer, you really need to think about how sympathetic and empathetic you can be. Sometimes, you will just need to get on with certain tasks and for both of your sakes, not spend too long thinking about what you’re doing, such as personal care, which can be very difficult.
It’s crucial that you can keep your body language positive when you are caring for them. Reading body language is something even the smallest child can do and is almost innate in human nature, so even if your elderly loved one has difficulty communicating, they will still be able to pick up on negative body language, such as clenched fists or uncomfortable expressions.
A smile always goes a long way, so it’s important to accept that you will need to be able to cover up any negativity and make sure your body language doesn’t give anything away since this will only upset and concern your loved one.
4. Caring for them emotionally
Being a carer is not only a physical task, it is often a very emotional one too. You will find certain aspects hard because you love them and it is incredibly hard seeing someone you love in a state where they can no longer help themselves in the way they used to.
However, in addition to all the emotions you will have building up because you find it sad, difficult and upsetting seeing them in their current state, you will also have a ton of other emotions that will build up in response to your job as a carer.
The caring profession is not easy. Carers often have to have the patience of a saint since caring for the elderly can be very frustrating and repetitive. You’ve got to be able to keep your emotions in check at all times when caring for an elderly person, otherwise you risk treating them differently because of your mood, which is extremely unfair.
5. Continue to treat them like an adult
Many people take on the care of their elderly loved ones; however, this doesn’t mean they’ve all had training in the caring profession. Sometimes this doesn’t matter, other times it really does.
For instance, a common mistake made by those who have not had any training is to start treating their loved one as they would a child. You should never do this. Not only is it incredibly patronising but it is also quite disrespectful.
If you want to be their carer, you’ve got to do it right, or use a home care agency in Barnet. It’s the very least they deserve.
Laura writes for Extra Mile Care Company. When not writing, she can often be found caring for relatives–elderly or not.
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