As our loved ones age and we find ourselves in a caregiving role, there are some small steps we can take to make the transition better... for both of you.
The first step is to take a look around the home
If the person lives on more than one floor, does it present problems for that person to get up and down? If so, things can be done depending on what you can afford so that falls would not happen.
Within the living space, is there good light? So that's really important. Can the person see what he or she is doing?
Is it just frankly a nice place to be? Is it colorful? Is it lively?
It's interesting as we age, our thermostat becomes less efficient, so having throws and comforters nearby, so that if a person gets little chilled, throw something on...
Step two is to look at ways to keep your loved one active and engaged.
There's a theory from gerontology called, "Selection, Optimization, and Compensation." selection; what are the things you really like to do?
Compensation is, so what are you able to do now, And then optimization has to do with "Okay, let's make sure that there's enough time and energy so that you can engage in those selected, optimized activities."
So, one thing that a person can do working with an older person, working with a parent, is to help the person really identify the activities that are important, that give meaning, that give pleasure in life.
It might be cooking; it might be reading; it might be exercising; it could be playing poker online, but to be able to have the person identify that and say,
"I really want to keep doing this." But then to recognize that there are some limits imposed by whatever conditions they may be and to work with those limits.
You like to exercise but you no longer can run half marathons, but you can still get to the gym or you can still go to the pool or we can get you a treadmill and you can walk on a treadmill here in the house.
You can watch exercise programs on video and do them here. Making that kind of connection for what's important and then the accommodation for what's possible, ...
Lots and lots of people advocate having a lot of plants around is sense of I'm taking care of something not just needing care of myself
Other ideas include jigsaw puzzles, playing cards, joining a civic, religious,political group or organizing family photos.
Family photos can be great, I think if the person is computer literate and more and more of us over 65 are.
There are all kinds of programs the people can acquire for little or no money to create albums, to create things that can be sent out for holiday gifts and whatnot.
Or else just little old fashion hard cover albums, putting those things together. It goes back to what the person like to do.
For the elderly, depression is under-diagnosed and under-treated, it's not normal part of aging but there are things you can do to prevent it.
Depression is more common in the elderly than in practically any other age group except adolescence.
often depression is produced by isolation. So, a lot of things we've talked about in terms of keeping the person active, keeping the person engaged they can prevent depression.
You don't do them to prevent depression, do them to enrich life, but they can prevent depression.
But if you see it then it needs to be named; it needs to be talked about with the person; brought up with the person's physician or a nurse practitioner and treated...
Social interaction is really important to sense of well being, making sure that relatives and loves ones phone on regular basis .
Have grandchildren send cards or letters. Engage in meaningful conversations with the person. Support their interest in religious or civil involvement
And encourage friends and family to visit or arrange simple gatherings
A caregiver should be aware of and recognize that there's probably a meaningful cluster of the environment,
a person's activity and a person's mood that contribute to an overall sense of health for the person. It's a kind of interactive cluster.
A person is a person as a whole, and so these things tend to go together and there are no simple, perhaps no simple fix but the caregiver will want to watch all three things,
the environment, activities and the mood to see what might be done to adjust one or more of them to improve health overall.