What is Care for the Elderly?
All types of care that target the older fellow-man is taken together as care of the elderly. Sometimes this is also called "elder care" or "long-term care".
Because of the decreasing muscular strength, problems with balance and possibly also mental deterioration, some older people need a certain level of assistance with day-to-day living.
Most of the time this assistance is about long-term care. In some cases there is only a temporary assistance needed to rehabilitate from an injury or a light Attack. Or they need a new way of handling day-to-day activities to overcome the limitations coming with aging.
Care of the elderly is distinguished in different levels:
- Home care by relatives (like spouse and children) or professional caregivers;
- Daycare (for one or more days a week) in a specialized facility;
- Full care in a nursing facility.
The Shortcomings of Old Age
Getting older is something we all have to deal with. The signs are clear when we look at our youthful appearance (that disappears).
Maybe there comes a day for you to take care of an elderly person. Please keep in mind to treat them with respect and understanding. After all they have to deal with their feelings of loosing their independence, still being adult human beings.
Aspects to take into account:
- Deteriorating physical condition.
This is the most important aspect to remember when taking care of an elderly person: that their physiological condition is worsening: The decreasing quality of hearing, sight and tactile sense are the most evident.
Pay attention to louder speaking and looking in their direction when talking to them. Ensure good conditions for viewing, such as more and clearer light.
They also are often more sensitive to pain and touch.
- Not being able to control a couple of aspects of their life.
Clearly identifiable and perhaps easier to accept is the decline in bodily functions. However many care givers (especially close relatives) have problems to cope with the decreasing memory.
It's essential for you to remember that they can't help it. They just don't remember, even if you talked about it just one minute ago. Maybe you can think of a record that you love to hear and play it over and over again. The record player doesn't bother how many times you repeat the same record.
Try to empathize with their distress about their not remembering all kinds of stuff and just repeat without confronting them with that.
- Decreasing immune system and capacity of keeping their temperature.
Most elderly have a very thin skin. The circulation of their blood decreases causing them to have problems in keeping themselves warm enough.
If they sit in a draught, give them a plaid or a cardigan.
While their immune system isn't working as well as it used to, they will also be more susceptible to bacterial infections and viruses. Keep them as happy and healthy as possible. Maybe it is time to add some vitamins and minerals into their meals.
Since they sometimes don't sleep very well, provide them with lots of rest.
- Mental changes.
Dealing with aging and increasing dependency may have its effect on their mental well-being as well. Probably they are confronted with the death of good friends or siblings.
Sometimes they want to talk about it. It is also possible they keep it for themselves. You need be compassionate and listen.
Care of the Elderly With Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease
Dementia and certainly Alzheimers Disease demand both an intensive type of care. These affections are identified with an increasing demand for care, because of the (sometimes) fast decline of mental and physical condition of the patients.
For caregivers, especially the relatives who most of the time are supporting during the first stages, this is a heavy burden. At a certain moment you have to decide about bringing your loved one to a care facility outside their familiar environment. It is hard to be responsible for.