If you have recently taken on the role as a caregiver, you may find the situation and your new position daunting. You may not have realized the extent of your parent’s needs or the physical or mental challenges they may be facing. Fortunately, those that have come before you have laid the groundwork and can provide a well-tested blueprint, ensuring your success as a caregiver and your parent’s well being through their later years.
- If your parent has not been to their primary health care provider, ophthalmologist, or dentist for some time, now is the time to get them caught up on regular check-ups. Many disease associated with aging can be halted in their tracks if they are diagnosed and treated in the early stages.
- After assessing the situation for a few days, gather your family together (including your parent) to discuss exactly what type of assistance they currently need and what type of care they will need in the future. The future model is not always easy to determine, but if they have chronic diseases or a form of dementia, you can prognosticate that their needs will increase with each passing year. Consider the following areas in your assessment:
- Personal care such as bathing, dressing and general hygiene.
- Household care such as meal preparation, grocery shopping, bill paying, housekeeping and laundry.
- Social care which ensures that they are staying actively engaged in their community and with family and friends.
- Transportation to appointments, errands, social events and outings.
- Daily exercise and medication monitoring.
- Put a daily schedule in place that incorporates all the necessary elements and the time they take place. A routine is vital to both you and your parent. Develop your caregiving team by speaking with family, friends and neighbors to determine who is willing and able to provide some assistance. Not everyone would be comfortable or able to do daily hygiene, but they may be able to provide transportation, meal preparation or weekly visits. Make sure that every task has been assigned an individual to complete it and be sure the schedule offers you a day or two off to rejuvenate.
- Safety proof their home by addressing any tripping or slipping hazards such as throw rugs or furniture that is creating obstacles. Make sure all pathways are unobstructed and that they have good lighting in all areas. Place grab bars in strategic locations such as the shower and by the toilet. Decrease clutter.
- Care for yourself by making sure you have time to exercise, eat nutritious meals and spend time doing the things you truly love. If you find you need some additional help to fill in the gaps in the schedule, consider obtaining the services of a senior care provider. These professionals can assist your loved one with the daily activities of living as well as provide that all-important companionship that is so vital to an aging parent.