Although the idea may sound quaint to some, having a senior citizen in your home is something unavoidable. Yes, it is burdensome. Yes, it means having frayed nerves. Yes, it means sacrificing your privacy. Yes, you should not expect any pay-back from your elderly parents…this is their time in the sun.
From the outset,let me explain, that there is no one who will understand the problems faced by the family when an elderly person is a permanent resident, unless he/she too is in a similar position. Elders grow even older, and with increasing age comes unexpected blows, in the form of health issues, visits to doctors, and mounting medical bills. Realize that no one from the extended family or even the closer family members will be there to pitch in. It’s a fact of life….no one wants to INVITE trouble!
Most articles on Senior Citizen care lay stress on the fact that it is an honourable task that you have undertaken, to look after an old person. Few go on to explain what measures you can take to avoid those inevitable moments of depression, craziness, and having the blues, whilst you’re at the job.
Being a seasoned caretaker of a permanent live-in elderly in-law for the past two decades, I can only say this: forget your Ego, forget your cravings for instant happiness and impulsive actions. Look at the long term benefits only. Do you really want to ignore an old person’s problems by staying away and pretending to have fun? In that case, you are only playing with fire. With their lack of presence of mind, the family elder may either leave the house premises, and roam unattended, or leave the gas or geyser on, leading to gravely dangerous situations.
Be kind to the elderly, even though it may raise your hackles at times. Remember, their insensitivity and memory losses are something beyond their understanding or intention. Sometimes, the elderly get violent…handle the situation appropriately. Nowadays there are n number of forums, support groups etc who cater to specific problems involved in caring for the elderly.
Here are some pointers to follow at home, in the event of having an elderly person to take care of.
- Do keep your house well-ventilated, clean and dust-free.
- Try keeping the bathrooms of the elderly clean and DRY, to avoid cases of slipping.
- Provide ample reading material and interesting things to do, customized to suit the individual.
- Music is a great mood elevator; keep music of their generation easily accessible, with simple to operate music systems.
- Constant reminders are needed for the elderly; sometimes they react negatively to such instructions. Be prepared to face bouts of anger.
- Keep a doctor’s number, an ambulance number handy.
- Inform all the people living around your house about the elderly relative you are looking after. This will help avoid situations in which you will feel flustered.
- Keep all medicines out of their reach, and administer medicine in your presence.
- Employ a part-time help at home in cases where you feel helpless.
- Try to involve them in family outings and fun.
- Make them feel respected, loved and wanted. This is an uphill task, as the next generation has no patience to communicate with the elderly.
- Keep all the financial support ready. This may be in the form of medical insurance, pensions, savings and other schemes. One never knows when an emergency situation requiring a sudden lumpsum of money may arise.
- Make them carry some form of an identity on their person if they happen to be going out for a walk, by themselves.
Lastly, do pay attention to their diet.
It finally does not matter whether the senior citizen you are looking after happens to be an in-law or your own parent. In both cases, remember you are dealing with aging problems, and this is not an easy task. It calls for a lot of patience on your part. And when I say Patience, I mean patience! Try not to shout and express your feelings of disgust, anger, and rage: even though these might feelings may be uppermost on your mind.
Balance your own life out by reading, meditation, having friends over, or going out for a break. A strong family bond will ensure that the stressful moments will be counterbalanced with relaxed ones. Lastly, always boost yourself up by reminding yourself that the present situation could have been worse!
This article is an original one. The contents have been garnered from various sources, online, books and real life experiences. In case the reader wishes to add any new dimension to this, I would welcome it.
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