You want the very best for your elderly loved one. You want them to feel supported, cared for, and loved each and every day. Yet, caring for them is a big undertaking. Whether you’re caring for them yourself or if you’ve hired a home care provider, there is a level of commitment. You are responsible for their physical health, emotional state, and overall well-being.
If you find yourself in this position, you’re not alone. Elderly care is more common today than it was decades ago, and it’s only going to continue to rise. Currently, there are 52 million Americans aged 65 and older; by 2060, this number is expected to increase to 95 million. Being the best possible caregiver depends on your loved one’s needs as well as your own.
In order to better manage this caregiver role, below are four practical ways to manage elderly home care.
1. Establish a Daily Routine
Having a routine can provide a sense of calm and ease. If your loved one is receiving full-time care for the first time, establishing a daily routine can help with their transition. It can also help if another provider is coming into their home each day to provide additional support. Knowing when they are coming and what to expect can ease any tension or stress.
In order to establish your loved one’s daily routine, brainstorm some ways their days can feel as joyful as possible. If they are craving connection, give them time for them to call a different neighbor or friend each day. If they need to work on their motor skills, find a nearby senior exercise class for them to attend weekly. Setting determined meal times can help lay out the structure for the day, allowing you to fill in hours as you see fit.
When creating their schedule, remember you don’t want them to feel like they don’t have authority or autonomy. Ask your loved one what they would like to do each day or what things bring them joy. This may mean doing a crossword puzzle or going for a walk each morning. Each day won’t go perfectly, but the more established the routine, the quicker you can get back on track.
2. Create a Standard Shopping List
You likely have a system or schedule for grocery shopping. You may go yourself, or you may have it outsourced with Instacart or another delivery service. Either way, you know that when an item is out, you need to replace it. The same obviously goes for your loved one’s home, but they may not know to tell you something needs replacing.
The easiest solution here is to build and start a weekly shopping list. This will allow you and/or the home care provider to establish a routine for ensuring your loved one’s home is well stocked. This list should be in a prominent place. The notes section on your personal phone may be the most convenient place. You can easily share this note with others, such as other family members or even the hired home care provider.
For this shopping list, you write down essential items like toilet paper and paper towels. You may also include your loved one’s favorite foods that you can easily meal prep for them. On a set day each week, go around their house and see what needs a refill. You can then bold or highlight the items that need to be replaced. Creating a standard list will save you time and ensure your loved one feels well taken care of.
3. Keep a Tidy Space
One less way to feel overwhelmed is to keep your loved one’s home or space tidy and clean. An unclean home isn’t healthy or helpful, and it certainly won’t make you feel any more in control. Of course, it can be time-consuming and challenging to clean another person’s space. If you are the sole caretaker, you may simply not have the time or energy to devote to cleaning. And if there is a hired provider, they may feel uncomfortable touching someone else’s belongings.
Additionally, your loved one may start to feel incompetent or annoyed when you are tidying up. The key here is to have an open conversation with your loved one about why you want a clean space. You can relay that it is more beneficial to them and others caring for them if all caretakers know where certain items are. For instance, if your loved one needs a clean towel, everyone knows to look in the linen closet.
Also, share with them that having a messy house creates a feeling of being overwhelmed. Tidying up means that possessions that are no longer needed can be gifted or donated. Try to devote a few chunks of time to go room by room with your loved one to declutter. Going through their items may even spark some great conversations. You may just learn something new about them and their past that you will cherish for years to come.
4. Ask for Help
Lastly, in order to be the best possible caregiver, you need to ask for help. No matter how much you adore your loved one, caring for them can feel like a chore or burden at times. This is bound to come up as you are trying to merge their needs with your own needs. Practicing self-care and giving yourself time away for them is so important for your own well-being. Once you’re refreshed and recharged, you’ll come back to them with more energy and willingness to assist.
Asking for help is vital if you are the sole caregiver or if you are sharing this responsibility with other family members or a hired service. Create a list of people near you that you can rely on. This can be everyone from neighbors, to friends, to relatives, to significant others. You can lean on different individuals for various needs, like a neighbor to watch your kids while you go for a walk in peace. Focusing on yourself, after all, is crucial to continuing to assist your loved one and their ever-changing needs and requests.
Asking for help may also mean outsourcing some tasks to lessen the burden on your shoulders. It may be beneficial, for example, to hire a cleaning service to come once a week. Getting a meal delivery service of the week may mean you don’t have to make lunches every day. Hiring a neighborhood kid to take care of mowing the lawn is another thing that you won’t have to worry about. Be direct with your asks when getting help so others know exactly what you need and can pitch in accordingly.
Being a caregiver is not something to take lightly. Whether you eagerly raised your hand for this role or not, know that you are doing the best you can. Don’t fall victim to feeling like you should or could be doing more. Your loved one appreciates all that you are doing for them, even if they forget to thank you.
These four tips will guide you as you navigate the challenges of being a caregiver. They will help set you up for success, supporting you and your loved one’s needs. These tips can also be beneficial if you have hired a care provider. Because no matter who is caring for your loved one, you can be assured they are receiving the best care possible.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Kampus Production; Pexels; Thank you!