Many older adults fight for their health daily because of chronic diseases. Some have more than one diagnosed chronic health condition, and they must stay under medication and learn how to manage their symptoms to improve their health.
Coping with these conditions can be a real challenge for your loved one, especially when you don’t support them. They have to go through treatments alone, pay for caregivers, and navigate complex healthcare systems. You can help them through these tough days by giving them the support they need. If you’re wondering how you can support your loved one through their journey, here are a few pointers:
Hire Professional Caregivers
Seniors need help to have a quality life regardless of their diseases. They need to take their medications on time and have someone help around the house. This is quite a commitment, and you may not be able to do it by yourself, or maybe you’re not in a position to do it. Yes, you’re responsible for your parents, but you won’t always be around to help, and this is where home care nurses or caregivers come in.
Many home care agencies with trained professionals are available to help you improve the quality of life of your loved one. You can go to this website to get the highest-quality in-home healthcare services and solutions for your family member. Hiring respite care will allow you to take a break, run errands, or go to work, knowing your loved one is in safe hands.
The right caregiver will give full attention to your loved one and even engage in all their favorite activities, improving their health and life. Here are a few tips to help you find the best caregiver for your loved one.
- Consider their background: The first thing to do before settling for any caregiver is to look into their background. You’d want to know their qualifications, experience, and whether or not they’re certified. If you’re using an agency, check their paperwork type and processing.
- Consider your loved one’s needs: It’s vital to look into the needs of your loved one before searching for a caregiver. You have to find out the kind of help they need. It could be someone to help with the cooking, cleaning, or handling of the medical regimes. This will also help you decide whether to hire a full-time or part-time care provider.
- Consider their charges: Another thing to consider before selecting a provider is their charges. Check if it’s within your budget so you don’t end up in debt. Compare prices from various agencies and private providers and settle for the more affordable one.
- Check their reviews: An excellent way to find out the provider’s quality of service is by checking the reviews from other clients. From here, you can decide whether or not they’re good enough for your loved one.
- Involve the family: Hiring a care provider for your loved one is a decision the entire family should make. Involve your siblings in this decision because you’ll need their help in one way or another. Also, talk to your seniors about it and make introductions beforehand.
- Request for referrals: Referrals are the easiest ways to find the best caregiver. You can ask your doctor, relatives, or friends to recommend you someone they know. You don’t want to leave them in the hands of a total stranger.
These tips will give you a starting point for finding the best caregiver for your parents. It’ll save you a lot of time and money in the process.
Do Your Research
You can’t provide the needed support for your loved one if you don’t understand the disease and its consequences. Do thorough research to find out more about the condition. You’d want to know the signs to watch out for, the treatment to undertake, and the consequences of not taking the medications.
You’ll also know the best doctor to put on the case through research and don’t shy from asking them many questions about the disease. You need as much information as you can gather to make good choices that’ll improve your loved one’s health.
Understand The Treatment Plan
Depending on the type of disease, your loved one will have a treatment plan to stay healthy and in good shape. You must understand the plan if you’re planning to support your loved one through the journey.
You ought to know the types of medications they’re taking, the medical appointments and tests to be taken, and the things to watch out for. Don’t leave everything to the caregiver. They may be trained, but they’re also human and may need help every once in a while.
Educate Them On Their Condition
Your loved one wants to understand their condition and learn how to manage it. They don’t want you to do everything for them. Besides, letting them handle a few things will help with their journey. Therefore, if you had a private discussion with their physician, the least you can do is tell them what you were talking about, the risks involved, and the precautions you must take.
Check to see if they understand what you’re saying, and encourage them by calling attention to the improvement ideas and strengths. You can ask them to tell you what they’ve understood from the discussion to ensure you’re on the same page. Also, encourage them to ask questions for better understanding. You’d want this interaction to be as productive as possible.
Explain Diagnoses And The Treatment Plan
Your loved one may refuse to go through with the treatment plan because they don’t understand how it’ll help improve their lives or what it involves. They may also be worried about the possible side effects of the medications or may have read some misleading information on the internet. It’s, therefore, vital to talk to them and clarify everything.
The treatment plan may involve many changes, and it’ll only work if you communicate with them and listen to their input. Remember, the plan can only work if your loved one is cooperative. Keep your explanations as simple as possible and resolve miscommunication, if any.
Maintain Records Of Their Medical Information
Another way to support your loved one is by keeping a record of their medical information. It comes in handy when you want to get a second opinion. It’ll also help you identify any alarming changes in their conditions.
You may also consider sharing this information with other family members and care providers. It’ll help them understand what needs to be done and watch out for any alarming signs. Remember, you can’t be by your loved one’s side all the time; so, you’d want to ensure everyone responsible for them is well informed on their condition and medication.
Develop A Chronic Disease Management Plan
As mentioned, your loved one will have a treatment plan to help strengthen their immune system so they can survive the disease. The plan may include a significant change in both of your lifestyles. For instance, you may have to move things around in your schedule so that you’re home by the time of their medication. You may also have to free up some space to take them to their next appointment. Other things you may have to do include the following:
- Encourage good nutrition: Good nutrition is critical in strengthening your loved ones’ immunity. Most elders with chronic diseases have no regard for their diet, and that’s a big mistake because it worsens their condition.
However, this isn’t entirely their fault because some medications have side effects that may affect their diet or the way their body digests food. You can consult your doctor about this and develop a nutrition plan within their special dieting. You can even consider purchasing supplements that’ll help boost their immunity.
- Create an exercise routine: You can help your loved one manage some diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s or heart disease, through regular exercise. It helps improve the immune system and cardiovascular functioning, strengthens bones, and reduces chronic stress. Basically, exercising improves their overall health and is also a good distraction.
- Arrange for transportation: You’ll also need to cover transport arrangements if your loved one doesn’t drive. You have to think of who’ll drive them to their appointments when you’re not around. You could discuss this with their caregivers and family members in a way that there’s always someone available to take them. Hiring a cab is another alternative but not necessarily a safe one, so try to avoid it as much as possible.
- Make your home a safe space: Another change you’ll have to make is securing your home. Having an elderly with chronic disease around requires you to ‘baby-proof’ your home again to prevent accidents. You’ll have to eliminate anything that may be dangerous to your loved one, including locking their medication in a cabinet if they have memory loss.
If they’re still living in their home, examine it and get rid of anything harmful, including glass tabletops. Restock their pantry with the necessary diet, and eliminate junk food they’re not allowed to take. You can also install light fixtures to help break falls if they lose their balance.
- Watch out for symptoms: Looking after an elderly with a chronic disease isn’t a walk in the park. You must be on high alert at all times. You must watch for changes that may mean something wrong, including eating habits, sleep patterns, and moods. It’ll help you respond quickly to any health issues that may worsen their conditions.
Also, if your loved one suffers from memory loss, ensure you have a reliable plan to remind them of their appointments and medications.
Request Help From Friends And Family
As much as you’d always want to be there for your loved one, there are times when you wouldn’t. Build a strong care team that can always cover for you when you need a break or have some errands to run.
You can request help from family and friends. The help doesn’t have to be in the form of spending time with your loved one only. It could also involve financial support, information, or referrals to better professionals. They may also help you with grocery delivery, take your loved one to appointments when you’re unavailable, and watch out for any alerting symptoms.
Stay In The Know
As mentioned, you may not always be around your loved one. There are times when you’ll have to travel for business or other family commitments or because you need some time for yourself. Whatever the reason, ensure you’re always in the know.
Come up with a plan that ensures you’re always connected. Give their caregivers, nurses, and physician a way to reach you in an emergency. You can even give them your home address if you live in a different city.
Take Care Of Yourself
Taking care of a senior with a chronic disease may be challenging and draining. You may get carried away and forget to look after yourself. Well, it won’t be possible to care for someone when you can’t do the same for yourself.
Take some time off to get out of your feelings and recharge. This way, you’ll return better and stronger enough to give them the optimal care and attention they need. Some of the things you can do to take care of yourself include the following:
- Getting enough sleep: Sleep is vital for your overall health. It helps your body function better, renews your energy, and gives you the strength to support your loved one.
- Eating healthy meals: Better diet is not only for your loved one. You must also watch what you’re taking. Eat lots of veggies and fruits to maintain a healthy immune system.
- Exercising regularly: Exercises are suitable for everyone. They keep you healthy and help you avoid some health complications. They’ll also help relieve the stress you may be undergoing due to your loved one’s condition.
- Meditating: Meditation is also an excellent way to relax your body, recharge your strength, and take your mind off things.
These are just a few ways to look out for yourself while caring for the elderly. You can also spend time with friends, read a book, or engage in other fun activities you love.
Suffering from chronic illness can be devastating and challenging for your loved one to manage, but you can make their journey a lot easier by supporting them through their journey. Hire an experienced caregiver to help you around the house and care for your loved one when you’re not around. Also, have a chronic disease management plan to ensure your loved one is always cared for. And last but not least, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.