My spouse is a retired health care professional, and I volunteered for many years in a nursing home. As an elderly character myself, I can now take on the role of a spokesperson for my peers on suggesting care tips.
1. When you have the responsibility of taking care of an elderly person, consider your attitude. Realize that you will be that age some day, and you’d want your caregiver to have patience, consideration and understanding.
2. Understand the elderly person’s physical and mental condition. Don’t expect responses as quick and intellectual as you’d get from a younger, healthier person. Expect mistakes and deal with them promptly with as little fuss as possible.3. Know the major aspects of what he/she has done in active life, and be a good listener. We feel considerable nostalgia for our past, and enjoy talking about it. Remember, we lived in what we consider important times: The Great Depression, World War II, Korean War, the beginning of the space age and the Presidencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Ike Eisenhower. We are happily flattered when someone wants to sit down with us and talk about it.
4. Many of us now in our 80s are members of what is called the Greatest Generation. We were no braver or brighter than any other generation, but we’re proud of our service and accomplishments in World War II. Realize that it was the last war America won, and we did it. Also, at least in my case, every time I talk about my service experiences, I get braver and braver. Use your good listener skills for members of our group as often as you can, and try to be patient with our repetitions.
5. When necessary, be sure the elderly person gets adequate medical care. Long gone are the days when doctors made house calls, so expect to make regular trips to medical offices and hospitals. If there is a home health care service with visiting nurses, be sure the senior is prepared in advance for the home appointment.
6. Just because we’re old and can’t get around as well as we used to, it doesn’t mean we want to shut ourselves off. We welcome visitors, trips to the theater, shopping, excursions and maybe, if there’s one within driving distance, some casino journeys. In many communities, free daily bus trips to casinos are available. If you check the passengers on one of the buses, you’ll see most are elderly.
7. If the elderly person is your mother, father or other close relative living in your house, it may be unfair for you to be taking on the entire 24-7 responsibility. If you have siblings who live nearby, be sure to include them in the care schedule. It will make your job easier and possibly offer you some necessary time off from the daily pressures.
8. With all the advances in technology, and if you can afford them, set up a room or area for the senior to spend time on a computer, watch TV on a large-screen format an a DVD player. With inexpensive, super-fast mail-in-DVD services like NetFlix and Blockbuster, it can be more advantageous and economical for seniors to watch movies at home than by going out in traffic to a crowded theater.
9. If you have any around your house or can bring them in, let the senior associate with children. We may seem grumpy and impatient at times, but we need and enjoy our time with youngsters, especially if they’re family. It gives us warm reminders that our family tree will continue to grow and flourish.
10. Show your compassion every day in every way. Do it as often as possible, especially if the elderly person is a parent who brought you into the world, loved and guided you from childhood to adulthood. Remember … you are likely to be in the same situation sooner than you expect.