If there’s one thing that’s certain in life, it’s that we all age. From the moment that we are born, we start to age and eventually we are facing the winter of our lives – hopefully not alone! If you are fortunate enough to have elderly relatives still with you, it’s likely you value their presence and wisdom they bring into your life. Those of advanced years bring so much value to our lives, and it’s important to keep looking after them for as long as you can.
If they are living alone, it’s important to remember that their independence will be important to them and maintaining that is paramount. The problem is when they become sick or unable to do things for themselves anymore due to their age. This is the moment for a conversation about stepping in and offering some help. It’s not a nice conversation to have, but it’s common for an elderly relative to not be able to cope when they are living alone and they may really appreciate your offer of help.
When you speak to your relative, impress upon them how much that seeing them alone and struggling is unnecessary as you’re right there to help whenever they need. Looking after an older relative can have some difficulties, but for most it’s preferable to moving them into a nursing home. Whether it’s your parent or your grandparent, you want to keep them comfortable and where possible, in their own home where all their memories lay. The health benefits alone of being around their possessions and photos and things can really be a mood boost, and keeping a close eye on their care by doing it yourself is a bonus. Nursing homes have their merits, but the risks of depression, nursing home bedsores and lack of care are too high of a possibility to risk it if you are able to care for them yourself. Comfort is key for the aged, and it’s not just physical comfort that should be a priority – it’s mental health.
Depression is a huge factor for those with advanced age and although it’s common, it shouldn’t be. The feeling of abandonment is more prevalent for those who have been moved from their home that they have lived in their whole lives to a care home. If you can put the time in to care for your elderly relative, it should be a privilege to do so. It’s not an easy task – especially for relatives who are resistant to help in the attempt to keep their independence, but you must do whatever you can to help them adjust to your help. Start small: shopping assistance and going for walks together. Move onto gradually to helping them with home cleaning and personal care as you can get them comfortable with your caring for them bit by bit. It’s all about trust and boundaries being respected, and you are the best person for the job. You are the person they love, they know and they trust – cherish that.