5 Essential Tips for Caring for Seniors
According to AARP, 90% of seniors aged 65 and older would prefer to age at home, rather than enter an assisted living facility. And can you blame them?
In-home care lets seniors remain where they're comfortable and familiar with their surroundings. Caring for seniors at home means one of two things.
Either the adult child takes on the responsibility or they hire an in-home caregiver. Or a combination of the two.
But caring for seniors takes a special kind of person. Here are five tips to prepare you for this monumental responsibility.
Communication Is Key
Communication is vital for any working relationship. And this is no different when it comes to caring for seniors.
Maintain open lines of communication between the caregiver, the patient, and any family members involved.
How much care does the patient need? What hours will you work? And how involved with family members be in the care of their loved one?
Knowing this information up front helps avoid confusion, disappointment, or placing unrealistic expectations on caregivers. If the senior's level of care changes, you may need to revisit these questions.
Pay Close Attention to Nutrition
Most people don't realize the importance of nutrition when caring for seniors. A combination of medical conditions and fatigue make it difficult for most elderly patients to get the nutrients they need.
Certain medication side effects can cause a loss of appetite or make food less appealing. Coordination with chewing and swallowing becomes difficult for seniors over time. And in some cases, patients simply refuse to eat or become agitated or stubborn at meal time.
Monitor the patient's weight and consult with their primary care physician regularly. A nutrition plan may be needed. In the meantime, ensure they're getting enough fluids, if nothing else.
Cut Down on the Spread of Germs
When it comes to caring for seniors, protecting your own health is equally as important. Cutting down on the spread of germs and infections will protect both you and the patient.
Simple tasks like washing your hands regularly and wearing gloves whenever coming in close contact with the senior can help. Even if you wear gloves, thoroughly wash your hands after removing them.
Keep the patient's bedding clean and dry. If necessary, wear a protective mask to protect against the spread of viruses and infections.
Respect Their Feelings and Wishes
One of the biggest mistakes people make when caring for seniors is not respecting the wishes of the patient. It's easy to fall into a routine of daily care. Meals, baths, administering medication, and scheduling doctor's appointments.
While all of these tasks are important (and necessary), don't forget that the senior is a person. A person with feelings and an opinion about their care and situation.
Ask them how they feel about what's being done to them. Explain what you're doing every step of the way. And most importantly, don't talk about them as if they're not in the room.
This is both disrespectful and humiliating for the person in your care.
Understand the Financial Options
As a caregiver, you may not be directly involved in the financial aspects of caring for seniors. But, the patient's family may struggle to understand their financial options.
New York Medicare and New York Medicaid are the most common health coverage options for seniors.
Medicare is a federal program that provides coverage for people 65 and older, regardless of income. Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health care for low-income individuals.
Understanding a person's financial options will help determine the level of care they can afford. As a division of Elite Home Health Care, The Eldercare Navigator can help seniors navigate the complicated application process.
Caring for Seniors is About Compassion
At the end of the day, caring for seniors is similar to caring for anyone you love and care for. It takes patience, compassion, and plenty of communication.
Understanding the senior's needs and wishes is an important part of the process.
If you're ready to care for the senior in your life and need help, read more here about the services we offer.