4 Essential Tips for Caring for the Elderly
Living with the elderly can be an extremely rewarding experience, as they always have something to offer: life-tested advice, a good honest chat, forays into their past experiences, among others. However, despite the pleasant moments, it is very important to know how to deal with the elderly to mitigate potential sources of tension and frustration.
Because they lived their youth in a generally more conservative era, some elderly folks are resistant to change, especially in a socio-cultural and technological landscape that is transforming at an unprecedented rate. In addition to this, there is a difficulty in accepting the aging process, which naturally limits autonomy. Thus, to help make a living together more harmonious, we have prepared 4 tips for you that will help you attentively engage with the elderly.
Caregivers and family members need to keep in mind the importance of having patience when caring for the elderly in order to encourage peaceful coexistence and help to overcome challanging times, such as is the case with elderly folks undergoing rehabilitative, palliative, or hospice care. Some common issues, such as the temperamental behavior of an aging adult, can negatively impact the relationship, but we need to remember that patience is always an essential element that will help to improve the relationship.
For this, we should always try to reflect on our attitudes, practice resilience, understand the real needs of the elderly, and recognize the typical limitations – and frustrations – that may come with aging.
2.Encourage moments of relaxation:
Many elderly people have certain limitations as a direct result of the aging process itself, and their ability to expend energy is usually greatly reduced. Beyond the physical limitations, this can cause a lot of mental and emotional anguish, especially for those who have always been independent and active when they were younger. The inability to actively do the things they love can sometimes cause them to enter a state of depression or go into further reclusion.
Therefore, whenever possible, we should encourage the elderly to do things they like to do. Enable them to have fun and enjoy pleasurable moments, preferably with other people around. Understanding the psychological need for this human connectivity and empowering them to enjoy in such a manner can go a long way in lifting their moods.
3.Allow them to enjoy autonomy once in a while:
Due to aging process, the elderly often find themselves in need for help with some activities that they used to be able to easily do themselves. This can cause a tremendous degree of stress, frustration, and discomfort, especially for people who were once very active in their professional and/or personal lives. Thus, assistance should be limited to and geared toward activities in which the elderly person has extreme difficulty and is unable to find a way to effectively and efficiently adapt to accomplish by themselves. This reduces the feeling of dependence and facilitates adaptation – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to this new phase of life.
The difficulty of walking, the use of medications, and the possibility of falling are common occurrences with aging, thus it is necessary to readjust the layout of the furniture in the house to minimize the risks. However, we need to remember that the rooms of the elderly person’s house must entail a strong continuity of identity of the elderly since they need to feel their opinions are considered and implemented when possible.
Empathy is understanding, identifying, and putting oneself in an individual’s situation. So, how can we expect to successfully live with another person if we cannot identify with the situation he/she is going through? Therefore, empathy is essential to properly engage with the elderly. Therefore, we must always render help and care in a way that shows that we identify with what they are feeling.
As we have seen, understanding how to deal with the elderly is very important to ensure healthy cohabitation and peaceful living. Therefore, we must always be patient, encourage fun times, empower independence, and show empathy. In addition to this, respect, knowledge, and appreciation go a long way in strengthening a relationship with the elderly.
Some guidelines for a healthy lifestyle that can positively impact aging all throughout life, up to and including the final moments before death: adequate and balanced nutrition, regular non-stressful physical activity, presence of social relationship, prevention of isolation, and proper control of chronic diseases. These factors help to promote healthy aging, preventing senility, and can be of benefit to you when it is your turn to be cared for as you yourself age.
William A. Haseltine, Tips For Caring For Older Adults, 2020.