10 Ways to Help Your Aging Loved One
1. Be empathetic with your loved one. Understanding that aging involves loss is an essential component in being empathetic. Below is a list of just some of the many examples of losses: • Control • Finances • Health • Energy • Patience • Friends • Mobility • Independence
Place yourself in their position. Think how you would feel losing what you once took for granted, and you may then be able to understand the difficulties and challenges of aging.
2. Let your loved one know that he/she is important and loved. Now is not the time to hold back the “I Love You.”
3. Stay in close contact on a regular basis. Call daily or as often as you can, even to say “Hi.” Getting others involved, such as other family members, friends, neighbors, or religious institutions will help not only your loved one but you as well.
4. Encourage your loved one to socialize, which will help avoid isolation and anxiety.
5. Evaluate the safety of your loved one’s environment. Seek out potential problems such as throw rugs, exposed wires, poor lighting, medication errors, and inadequate hydration and nutrition, which can all lead to falls, hospitalizations, and further reductions in quality of life.
6. Be a strong advocate for your loved one. Acting as your loved one's advocate could be a stressful and emotional role, due to the many known and unknown choices that are available to you. Making the best decision for you and your loved one is complex and can be risky. Seek out the assistance of a professional, personal advocate to assist you through the process. Professional involvement can make the process not only less stressful but perhaps a memorable and heartwarming experience.
7. Do not ignore your personal needs. Make time to rest and tend to your obligations. If you are overwhelmed, you may not make the best decisions. Using a professional, personal advocate will free up your time doing the things that are important to you and your family.
8. Try to get your loved one involved with making decisions, no matter how basic. This will help keep his/her mind active, reduce anxiety, and increase the sense of control, value, and importance. For example, instead of saying, “It is time to eat,” ask, “When are you ready to eat?” As another example, instead of saying, “It is now time to wash up,” ask “When do you want to get washed?”
9. Help your loved one to maintain an organized and familiar environment. Help with recalls and familiarity, such as what day of the week it is and special days, such as birthdays and anniversaries. Develop a memory book with pictures and captions. Be sure to review the memory book with him/her often.
10. Make your loved one feel safe, loved, and protected. By creating a safe and loving environment, your loved one will be less anxious and have a better sleep cycle. Everyone will benefit from the element of love and safety.