Since Jeanne Erdmann's mother was diagnosed three years ago with dementia, she has taken on the daily responsibilities of bathing and dressing her mom, preparing her meals, making sure she takes her medicine, and managing her finances.
"It wears you down. I think it's the grind of having someone there every day who needs more and more attention," says Erdmann, a medical journalist in Wentzville, Mo. Although she says she's happy to be there for her mom, Erdmann acknowledges the toll caregiving ...
Come up with a list of questions and concerns to discuss with the doctor beforehand. Have you noticed any new symptoms? Are any medications causing side effects? You may notice things that your loved one doesn't realize or forgets to ask about.
Medication safety. Many seniors take a lot of medicines. It's easy to get confused, skipping a dose of one drug and taking a double dose of another. You can simplify the process.
Get a large, easy-to-read weekly pillbox and help set it up. Use timers or alarms to remind your loved one to take medicine. And if his medicine schedule is just too complicated, ask his doctor if he can simplify it by using different drugs or dosages.
Physical activity. Encourage your loved one to stay active. Exercise can improve his health, strength, sleep, and mood and lower the risk of falls.
Try short walks around the neighborhood or take swims at the community pool. If that doesn't appeal, encourage an activity like gardening. Of course, it's always a good idea to check with your loved one's doctor before you start any sort of formal exercise program.
Mental health. Watch for signs of depression and anxiety, and don't assume that problems will get better on their own. You can talk to your loved one's doctor about getting help from a therapist.
Good nutrition. Encourage your loved one to eat a healthy diet. When you shop, choose nutritious foods that are easy to prepare.
You and other caregivers can bring over frozen meals that you've made for reheating in the microwave or oven. Just make sure they're clearly labeled and dated. You should also take a look in the fridge and cabinets to make sure that your loved one isn't at risk of eating food that's gone bad.