Caregiving Tips to Keep Your Loved One Healthy

You can play a big role in keeping your loved one healthy. Follow these caregiving tips to make sure he's feeling his best.

Medical care. Make sure your loved one gets to all his doctor appointments. Go to some of them with him so you can keep tabs on treatment and be an advocate for him.

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.

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Medical ID jewelry. Get your loved one an alert bracelet or pendant that includes his name and key medical information in case of an emergency.

You could also consider signing up for a service that provides medical jewelry with an alarm that can call emergency help.

Helpful devices. See if your loved one is having trouble doing basic tasks, like using a can opener or turning on the faucet. Simple and often inexpensive tools can be an easy fix. Reach extenders allow people to get things high up without having to stand on a chair and risk a fall. Special kitchen utensils with large grips are much easier for people with arthritis to use.

Safety-proofing. Take a close look at your loved one's living space to spot any risks. Make sure that there aren't tripping hazards, like loose rugs or piles of papers.

Replace burned out lightbulbs and keep the rooms well-lit. If he has Alzheimer's, you may need to make more extensive changes, like putting locks on some cabinets and removing the knobs on the stove.

Home improvements. Simple changes to your loved one's home may allow him to live independently for longer. Some fixes are relatively cheap, such as adding hand rails to the bathroom or replacing doorknobs with easier-to-open handles. There are also more expensive and complex improvements you can consider, like installing a stair lift. Talk to his doctor or a social worker about what changes to make.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on February 08, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Administration on Aging: "Because We Care: A Guide for People Who Care."

American Family Physician web site: "Promoting and Prescribing Exercise for the Elderly."

Family Caregiver Alliance: "Hot Weather Tips," "Medications: A Double-Edged Sword."

National Alliance on Mental Illness web site: "Depression in Older Persons."

National Institute on Aging: "Caregiver Guide: Tips for Caregivers of People with Alzheimer's Disease."

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