Caring for the elderly – whatever you call your search for assistance for family members, friends, or yourself, you are on an important quest. Our goal need to be as their elder care ‘intermediary’ connecting you with trusted organizations, individuals, and resources that can begin to answer your questions and point you in the direction that best meets your care needs. Many seniors and also those who have injuries need special care and equipment in their day to day life. They may need wheelchair, walker or a good walking cane for mobility and going from one place to another.
Tips for those who want to take care of seniors
As the New Year approaches it is important to reflect on the year before and create an improved caregiving plan. Here are some tips to prepare for the year to come:
Stay up to date on what’s current in healthcare, including laws (i.e. the Affordable Care Act), new medical devices, medicines, and treatment options. Mayoclinic.com has a “Research” tab on its homepage dedicated entirely to advances in the health profession and Healthcare.gov is a great source for legal information.
Be sure you have respite care, or at least understand how to access it in the case of an emergency. There are many resources at the local and regional level. Also check out the ARCH National Respite Network.
Develop an emergency plan (if you haven’t already done so) to ensure the safety of your patient if you are unable to provide care. A comprehensive Google search will uncover many resources, including the National Association’s for Home Care and Hospice emergency preparedness packet.
Arm yourself with the right “tools,” including appropriate medications, no-rinse pre-packaged cleansing cloths to making bathing easier, and essentials like one-step barrier cream cloths to cleanse and protect the skin.
Daily assistance that many elders need
Seniors vary in terms of their physical, mental, and emotional needs; types and level of activity; levels of independence; and desires for their daily lives. Mobility is important to the elderly, even if it is just within their own surroundings. The daily living skills most affected by aging and chronic illnesses or disabilities include self-care activities that most people learn in early childhood and tend to take for granted as they mature. Practicing fall prevention. So it makes sense that the type and extent of daily assistance needed for people older than 65 can vary widely from person to person.
Make sure they are properly fitted for either a wheelchair, motorized mobility chair, walker or cane. These include basic survival tasks such as dressing, bathing, grooming, using the toilet, moving in and out of bed or a chair, and eating. Frailty can cause falls. Learning about the different types of assistance available to seniors will help you navigate the spectrum of living assistance—for you or a loved one. Install a wheelchair ramp, hand rails and wider door wells to make getting around the house hassle-free.
Occupational therapists can evaluate a home and its resident and recommend grab bars and other changes to improve safety. But it works the other way, too: falls can lead to frailty. The Activities of Daily Living are a series of basic activities performed by individuals on a daily basis necessary for independent living at home or in the community. A hospital bed, shower chair, lift or tripod bar may assist with getting up from bed or staying safe in the shower. They also help clients develop strength and skills, such as balance, so they can manage more of their daily activities.
If medications affect your balance or alertness, discuss a lower dose or different medicine with your physician. There are many variations on the definition of the activities of daily living but most organizations agree there are 5 basic categories. Studies show that visits from an OT help older people stay in their homes longer. Have your vision checked regularly. Clear your home of clutter and loose rugs or wires. Good lighting is essential; use night-lights in bathrooms, hallways, and, if needed, your bedroom. Wear flat-soled shoes or boots that grip. In bad weather, exercise indoors.
Walking Canes for seniors
Walking canes are designed to help people with mobility issues improve their balance and walk safely. The proper use for a cane is just to help maintain balance. Quad canes are types of canes that have three of four separate feet on their ends. A walking stick should be considered when a person is unable to maintain their balance on their own. There are dozens of canes available on the market today, but not all of them are created equal.
A cane should never be used for weight bearing or for full support of the body. These canes are very supportive, and offer the most support of any of the types of canes. Holding onto objects or depending on other people, even for certain activities, is an indication that a walking stick is necessary. People who hold onto furniture when waking at home usually benefit from using a cane. They are great for people who have severe walking issues, or who have muscle and joint diseases that prevent them from walking easily. A person who experiences repeated falls also needs to consider using a walking stick.
Some senior citizens come to a point in their life when they realize they may need help walking. Manual wheelchairs come in a variety of weights and configurations, from standard to ultra lightweight, and even sport recreation wheelchairs. In addition, the lightweight version is more reactive than the conventional wheelchair, supplying the user with more accuracy when maneuvering in limited areas along with the potential to get involved with active sports and physical activities.Even though it is lightweight, every design is analyzed to guarantee faultless balance, silky smooth performance and comfort for the user. Power wheelchairs are customizable and have more options for seating. Assistance can be due to old injuries flaring up, arthritis, hip problems, parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and many other issues.
If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your wheelchair, opt for a lighter weight chair as you will use less energy throughout the day to operate it. For users who require positioning devices for trunk control and stability, a power wheelchair can be customized with seat and back cushions with many positioning features. While the realization that you need help to walk may be a difficult fact to accept, but there is a bright side to the situation. Power wheelchairs also have options for electric tilt and recline, which are features that can be beneficial for people who have limited ability to reposition themselves in the wheelchair. There are many benefits that wheelchairs provide to senior citizens.
Before I became a caregiver there were things I used to enjoy that have all but disappeared from my life. I realized this a few months ago when I went on vacation for the first time since I became Gladys’ caregiver. My life pretty much revolves around Gladys’ needs and I’ve neglected myself in many ways. That’s about to change.
The holidays gave me a chance to jump start some things that I want to bring back into my life. It’s amazing how little things can provide so much satisfaction. The following changes are being re-incorporated into my life.
I haven’t been married for 38 years by ignoring my husband. Fridays used to be our date night. It’s something we started about 20 years ago and kept up until 2008. While we probably can’t make a weekly date, we can probably work in a date once a month. I just have to convince my daughter, Anita, to watch Gladys for us while we go out.
Love A Good Book
I love to read. Give me a good thriller or murder mystery and I’m a happy camper: Vince Flynn, Michael Connelly, Walter Mosley, JD Robb or Tom Clancy. Between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve, I read four novels – three JD Robb and one Michael Connelly. JD Robb is a recent author that I started reading and I’m trying to catch up on the Eve Dallas series. Fortunately I found a good second hand book store that also takes trade-ins. I didn’t get much else done, but I was content and eager to get back to my books.
My reading goal is at least one novel per month.
Food Network Anyone?
Until last month, it had been a while since I tried a new recipe. Over the past month I’ve tried at least six new recipes, including frying a turkey. I shared my new recipe adventures with my Facebook friends. It’s funny how so many friends responded to the cholesterol, calorie laden recipes but not a peep when I share the healthy ones.
This goal is to try a new recipe at least twice a month.
This year I went on vacation alone and that was a stretch. Not because I can’t handle being alone (I enjoy alone time), but because my husband is semi retired and has not worked in about two years. In addition to that, my hours were cut just before Gladys came to stay with us. However, we’re going to work it out along with care for Gladys while we are gone.
Exercise of Any Kind
Just before Gladys came to live with us I started walking for exercise. It wasn’t much but it was something. Over the past year and a half I have become a bonafide couch potato and gained about 10 pounds. I’ve got to get back to walking. Also need to incorporate a stretching routine. I believe all of these are doable. It’s not really a lot, it just takes some planning and time management.