Improvements in healthcare and living conditions have meant that humans are living much longer than ever before. Reaching old age is certainly something to be celebrated, but it does not come without its share of challenges. Many times, a family caregiver will help with caring for the elderly loved one navigate these challenges, with a study carried out by the AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving showing that more than 34.2 million American adults have provided unpaid care to adults aged 50 or older.
Challenges To Expect When Caring For The Elderly
Family caregivers often spend a significant amount of time on caregiving duties, and this can be particularly overwhelming to those caring for a spouse or partner. Here is a look at some of the major challenges you can expect to face when caring for an elderly loved one.
Problems With Mobility And Everyday Tasks
As people age, their dexterity and mobility naturally decline. This can make completing everyday tasks challenging, including things like meal preparation and feeding, bathing, grooming and dressing. In some cases, you may take on all of these tasks as the caregiver. Depending on your loved one’s abilities, however, you may be able to seek support to enable them to live more independently via programs that focus on balance, safety, mobility and fitness.
Healthcare is often a complicated matter to navigate, particularly if your loved one is living with a long-term condition. Elderly people often see a lot of different medical professionals, and it is important to ensure that everything is coordinated and all the individual specialists they see are aware of their conditions and the medications they are taking to avoid potential conflicts. You will also need to coordinate their appointments and medication delivery and ensure that any medical supplies they need are always on hand.
Deciding On Your Loved One’s Care
If you choose to care for your loved one on your own, you may need some resources, training and emotional support to help you deliver the best care possible while also maintaining your own emotional health.
As much as you may want to care for your loved one on your own, there may come a time where complete independence is no longer practical for that person and your own family and career responsibilities make it difficult for you to keep up. At this point, you may need to consider hiring a professional caregiver to help your loved one remain in their own home and ensure their needs are being met. This is particularly important when your loved one has a complex medical condition or a physical disability.
Many elderly people feel isolated or marginalized thanks to outdated stereotypes about senior citizens. Social events can allow your elderly loved one to maintain a sense of self-esteem and identity while tapping into their experience and knowledge. It is important to ensure your loved one is engaged and participating socially to avoid losing their sense of purpose as mental health is strongly tied to physical health.
In addition, as a family caregiver, you may be vulnerable to depression and isolation. Your caregiver duties could take up so much time that you are unable to maintain your social connections outside of the home, so it is important to try to maintain a balance between caregiving and tending to your own life.
Not all retirement plans are evolving at the same pace as the advancements in healthcare that are increasing longevity. Some elderly people are still capable of working past the standard retirement age and may desire to do so but could find that getting hired at their age is difficult.
There is also the matter of managing day-to-day finances and ensuring enough is saved for later life. This is made even more complicated by the fact that a lot of bill paying and investing is now done online. Not only is this difficult for some elderly people to do on their own, but they can also be vulnerable to scams and fraud. Therefore, as a caregiver, this responsibility may fall in your hands.
There may also be a financial burden on you as a caregiver. Your work is generally unpaid, and you may be spending less time at a paying job as a result of your duties. It is important to be aware of how your caregiving is impacting your finances.
Preparing For End Of Life
Death may be inevitable, but that does not make it any easier to talk about and plan for. When caring for an elderly loved one, you will need to have conversations at some point about end-of-life options; their desires when it comes to matters like advance directives, palliative care and organ donation; the financial implications of their passing; and how they wish to be honored when they pass away.
Get In Touch With SCNOVA For More Info On Caring For The Elderly
As a family caregiver, you can take advantage of services aimed at enhancing elderly people’s quality of life. Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia is a non-profit organization that promotes living a purposeful and independent life among adults aged 50 and older via home visits, cultural enrichment opportunities, lifelong learning and other types of assistance. If you care for an elderly loved one and are interested in additional support, reach out to the experienced team at Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia today.