Advice For First-Time Elderly Caregivers

January 15, 2019

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The decision to provide care for an elderly relative is one that most of us make without a second thought. You want to help in whatever way you can, and your experience as a parent should be hugely beneficial, allowing you to deliver the care that your loved one needs.

However, while providing care to an elderly loved one is often the most obvious choice, it’s far from a simple one. In an effort to make the transition as smooth as possible, below, we’ve collected together a few essential facts that may be able to help assist you through this new phase in your life.

#1 - Do your research

Many elderly caregivers find that one of the most challenging aspects of their role is that they begin to feel out of their depth. Elderly health is very different from standard healthcare, so it’s entirely reasonable if you find yourself confused or unsure. To combat this, do your research, with a particular focus on conditions most likely to be experienced by older people; you can learn more about hearing loss and its potential link with dementia, learn about dementia and Alzheimer's in and of themselves, and read up on caring for older, often frail, skin. The more you learn, the more your confidence will grow, and you’ll subsequently feel more capable of providing the standard of care you are striving to achieve.

#2 - Be wary of the “stiff upper lip”

In today’s world, we are all encouraged to be open and honest about our feelings and any difficulties we are experiencing - so much so that it’s easy to forget that such openness is a very new way of thinking. The older generation has long been taught the importance of maintaining a “stiff upper lip”, often insisting that all is well even when the exact opposite is true. As a result, you may find that your loved one is not particularly forthcoming with any issues they are experiencing, meaning you instead have to look out for signs all is not well - and learn to trust your instinct. If you feel there’s more going on that you’re not aware of, investigate further until your suspicions are either confirmed - and you can take action to resolve the issue - or fully eased.

#3 - Your own health and well-being remains paramount

As you have no doubt experienced when parenting, often, your own health and well-being slips down the priority list. While this is understandable, it’s also far from ideal. To provide the level of care you wish to provide, you need to be at your best, so try to find time in your caring schedule for self-care, catch up on sleep, and relax. It’s also worth remembering that respite care is an option available to you as required, and it’s well worth exploring this further if you need a longer-than-usual break.

Hopefully, the advice above will allow you to transition to your new role as the caregiver for an elderly loved one simply, smoothly, and with positive results for all involved.

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