A Family’s Guide to Caring For an Elderly Relative

Caring for a relative at any age creates an intimate connection and one that a family member delivers with love and dedication. When that family member is elderly, there are considerations to make to ensure that the level of care you are providing is right for their physical health and mental wellbeing. 

Today we are going to cover a guide to caring for your elderly relative so that you feel ready and supported to take on this responsibility, and can prepare your home and family for the undertaking.

Woman caring for an elderly relative

Consider your aged care options

Aged care is a responsibility that never has to fall solely on your shoulders, especially if you anticipate you will be time-poor and not equipped to give the care that is required. Residential care and respite care are great short-term options that you can engage if you need extra support, or even if you would like to break up the labor for the duration of the care. You may even wish to discuss your plan with an aged care professional to get some outside buy-in, as they may alert you to a local service or specialist who can bridge those gaps.

Prepare your residence

You may believe that your home is safe for cohabitation, but an elderly person requires an elderly home audit as some features can pose a threat. Rugs can often pucker and be a tripping hazard for an elderly person, and your staircase might need some extra support and even a chair placed on the landing should your loved one require a reprieve. You also want to get the temperature of your home just right, as our body temperatures can change as we age and you want your family member to be comfortable. Some of these home enhancements might seem trivial, but they will be well received by your new guest.

Health considerations

Before you invite your elderly loved one into your home, it is imperative that you understand the health requirements that they must abide by. It could be a great idea to visit the GP of a family member so that the three of you can discuss if there are any medication dosages required and at what frequency. This could also be a great opportunity to run through what your intended routine would be for this duration, as their GP will be able to say whether or not the physical exercise and number of activities in one day is too much or too little. It can be hard to apply an elderly lens to our lifestyle, so a GP can give you this context.

Incorporate their wishes

Regardless of the age of your family member, their independence and personal wishes should always be catered to. Wouldn’t we all want to be treated the same? Take some time to connect before you take over their care and understand how they see this time playing out and what you can do that will make this process even more enjoyable. The last thing you want is a power shift that is going to place a strain on your relationship or make things awkward when you are living together. If you have very different ideas about care practice, it is better to find this out before you commence this temporary role.

It may be challenging at times for caring for an elderly relative, but it will be an experience that you do not regret and one that will strengthen your bond. The best thing you can do to prepare for the experience is to seek information from a number of sources and involve your family member in every decision so that they can impart their own preferences.

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