- Aging & Longevity
Taking care of the elderly - Thoughts and tips in elder care
Care of the Elderly
Caring for the elderly is not as easy as I would have naturally thought. The experience and the opportunity that I have had to associate closely with the elderly has taught me otherwise. When we approach elder care with the premise that caring for them is easy, one could easily become unhappy with care givers, I have been there and done that. You naturally feel sympathy for the aged and the elderly and it is easy to get all protective about them, especially when you are not the care giver. I have always had this soft corner for the elderly, my heart goes out to them. I do as much as I can, for these older and wiser friends of mine and but then I do recognize the challenge involved .
A few points to remember while taking care of the elderly
While working with the elderly there are a few things that one might need to remember to make caring for the elderly easy and that the care giver is not stressed out. One is the assumption that the aged people have lesser needs and that they have mellowed down and so are less demanding. Not all old people mellow down. Some elderly people I associate with seem to have got vociferous over time and their demands increase with every visit. This is not a complaint, I realize that as time progresses they hold on to you emotionally and become dependant on you for various things. This clinging and dependant nature, I realized could actually work against them, as people have neither the time nor the patience to indulge them. A little understanding and acceptance from both sides could make this exercise a much more pleasant and fulfilling one.
Common problems faced while taking care of the elderly
The fact that they repeat the same things over and over again could make the caregivers life miserable. Their biggest need seems to be the need for constant company. They need to talk and reminiscence. I know my neighbor’s life history, her children and her grandchildren have no time for her stories. I don’t mean they don’t help, they come and do all that they need to do, but it seems that they do not understand that the need for things and food are all secondary to the need for company. So being the patient listener, I have heard the stories so many times over that I can write them in detail and make a book of them. They are interesting at least to me, but not when I listen to them for the nth time and when I have other people and things screaming for my attention. I hope you understand what I mean. I have the ability to turn conversations to the direction I want, but even then sometimes with the elderly it could be hard.
Failing memory - a cause for concern while caring for the elderly
Failing memory is another problem. The fact that the elderly keep forgetting that they have already given you the run down of things as they happened seems to be cause some irritation and impatience to spark up as a care giver. Even more troubling is the fact that some details seem to get fudged and blurred with age and they insist that they know things better. It calls for a great amount of patience to deal with these issues without hurting their feelings. When problems with memory occur they tend to give out conflicting information to different people causing some flare ups or misunderstandings. It calls for patience and a better understanding of their condition to handle these issues skilfully. One aslo needs to learn to ignoring or take everything they say with a pinch of salt.
Caring for the elderly - some common concerns
Lack of responsibilities or having nothing to do is another issue with the elderly. ‘Taking care of the elderly’ this phrase itself gives the idea that they are incapable of doing things for themselves and have to be taken care of. This by itself can cause a person to get into depression especially if they have been active and useful all their lives which most of them have been, bringing up their children and providing for them. The feeling that they are not useful to the society anymore or the thought that they have become a burden to the society can cause some strange behaviour or call for different ways of coping with self esteem issues.
Some aspects to keep in mind while caring for the elderly
Their loneliness causes them to seek out those who are sympathetic. They do seem to get bolder and demanding at times if they find all their needs being met. They lack of company on their other hand causes them to withdraw into themselves and their aches and pains. They really need to be busy with something for their well being. I have noticed that people who have hobbies or something to entertain them do better socially than the others. Their mind is now positively or creatively employed in one direction and they feel good about it.
I have often heard the elderly referred to as meddling busy bodies. The lack of interesting things to do and the boredom that sets in causes people to find escape routes that they would never have considered earlier. Now they seem to be trying to get involved where there are really not accepted or expected to.
Elder care - meeting social and emotional needs
Another aspect that we need to take into consideration as care givers is that - most often it is only the physical needs that are met. Their emotional social or psychological needs are often pushed below the surface. If their children or grandchildren on whom they have poured all their love and emotions now find them boring or uninteresting and have no time for them, it would be a hard fact to accept of the elderly already struggling with other major and minor life changes.
Inability or handicaps adds to their frustrations and cause them to be more irritable and impatient. Sicknesses and common ailments of old age also take their toll on the elderly. As they become more irritable and impatient the job of taking care of the elderly becomes more difficult.
Elderly couples seem to adjust well to changes than lone singles. This is because of the need of companionship seems to have been met to a certain extent. Even if they are fighting or disagreeable between themselves they do take care of the needs of the other.
A few thing that you can do while caring for the elderly
Just a few words of encouragement could help them and lift up their spirit high. That would help not only brighten up their mood but also lift up the drooping self esteem. When a person’s self esteem and self worth is high, the individual is bent on being productive and useful despite ailments and disabilities. Encouraging them to develop or revive hobbies could make life more meaningful. Providing for an environment where elderly people can visit and socialize with others their age, may make their life more colorful and bring in an element of expectation and something that they can look forward to. Such small and insightful changes could make caring for the elderly easier than it usually is.