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Taking care of the elderly - Thoughts and tips in elder care

Updated on September 7, 2011

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.

Your comments can add value to this hub ...

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    • Carehomeinbexhill profile image

      Ingrid Carley 

      14 months ago from Bexhill-on-sea,East SUSSEX, UK

      Awesome..Really informative sites and I loved the article posted on this site.

    • tabrezrocks profile image

      Md Tabrez Alam 

      6 years ago from Calcutta, India

      Great work done by the author i give her a thanks for this very informative and great hub. The topic she discuss in this hub is clearly indicates how to really take care of the elderly persons.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      lj gonya, wow! hats off to you.. I am not sure about patience not being one of your attribute.. You seem to be a natural .. best wishes to you and you Mom-in-law.. Have fun... Have a great day.

    • lj gonya profile image

      lj gonya 

      6 years ago

      Everything you said really hits home since I am taking care of my 90 year old mother-in-law, and she is the first elderly relative that I have taken care of that exhibits the common symptoms of repeating,depression etc. It is important that we remember that they are sometimes just plain bored after leading active lives. This year she wants to go fishing and horseback riding, and even though it may seem incredible, that is just exactly what we are planning on doing! It does take patience, and while that has never been one of my attributes, I am working on it!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Great point there. Financial independence could give them a higher sense of self-worth and confidence. But having worked with the elderly for sometime.. I would still rate love and companionship higher. That has been my observation thus far. Have a wonderful day . God Bless!

    • snagerries profile image


      6 years ago from Singapore

      A fantastic hub about a topic which everyone knows but nobody seems to talk about. For me giving them financial independence is very important apart from giving them love and care.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Marcoujor, thanks for highlighting the needs of the elderly. The patronizing attitude of those of caregivers is something worth mentioning as we may overlook that aspect of behavior. I am glad that you did bring this up, thank you for the value addition and for voting up and useful.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Wow Ruby, down here they never allow pets. It would be so wonderful to let the elderly have their pets. The emotional bonding that they have had with their pets could be helpful to both. Thanks for sharing this information and adding another perspective to the discussion.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thank you Sylvia.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


      This is such a valuable subject as Mom would have been 84 today; she taught me so much. As a nurse, I have a special affinity for the elderly population as well.

      As a society, we can be so patronizing to our seniors, assuming they are not receptive to learning about their health/ other new information. Often we are not considering the way the material is being presented.

      Even entering my fifties, I prefer no distractions, one idea at a time, a mix of visual and written material, for people to slow down when they speak and to speak up-- just basics like that.

      This gave me much food for thought and was very well written. Thank you so much. Voted Up & Useful.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Very good information. We have a nursing home in my area that allows the resident's pets to live with them. I think this is wonderful. I hear they have a waiting list to get in.


    • Sylvia's Thoughts profile image

      Sylvia Van Peebles 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      Nice hub!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Lita that is a compliment that I am not so sure I am worthy of. I appreciate your kind words and thank you so much for the read and the comment.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Fiddleman, I truly appreciate your point of view.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Tim, I can understand the feeling of frustration that can sometimes arise when you are taking care of elderly parents. Yes, it calls for more patience and understanding and maybe a lot more love that blinds us to their faults. Thank you for sharing your views, it adds value to the discussion. Thank you for the read and the comment :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      CM Castro you make a valid point, it is so true they are social, emotional and spiritual being whether they accept it or not. Yes, we need to take a holistic approach in the care of the elderly.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      L.L.Woodard, I was making some observations from working with the elderly, the purpose was to bring a better understanding not generalizations. There are exception to all general statements and we may also be talking across cultures. Thank you for the input and the comment. I honestly appreciate it.

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      What a compassionate and caring hub for the elderly! Your own parents are lucky to have you. They are safe and secured in their old age with you. This hub is a tangible proof of your concern to people who are oftentimes misunderstood, which starts with caring your own.

      Beautiful! Bookmark this, it being nice to read and recommend for reading for the young. Thank you!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great hub on a subject many seem to ignore.

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 

      7 years ago from Me to You

      Yes sofs, it can be frustrating caring for aging people, especially parents. I know this feeling firsthand. It really requires a great deal of patience and understanding their needs, as you say. You seem to have that special quality that allows you to really connect to these people in a meaningful way. Good on you.

    • CMCastro profile image

      Christina M. Castro 

      7 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      I see that you have a soft spot for the elderly as I do. I really believe that my experience becoming a professional Nurse was in the plans. I had no hesitation to accept the offer of working in the nursing long term facilities when I was a graduate nurse.I stayed with that branch of Nursing for about 18 years until I decided to take care of Special needs children full time. The elderly have a special place on this earth. Even though their faculties may subside, their hearts are still as young as they desire. My own parents impress me the most. Besides a balanced nutritional state and the need for hydration, What you feed into their lives in the way of spiritual while they are compensating for their differences is what gives them the hope. That keeps them here. I wrote a hub called "From Old Age To Spirit New." I hope you get a chance to read it.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      You've made some valid points about providing care for the elderly, particularly addressing that they have more than just physical needs--as is true of any age group. I think you have to be careful with generalizations, though, because not all senior citizens act in the same way.


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