‘Til Our Hair Turns Gray: Caring for the Elderly
People fear aging. The romanization of the youth in modern media has further emphasized, as seen in being young and blissfully foolish, the power of the youth, the potential and hope of the youth. Because of this, many of us end up fearing becoming old, not necessarily because we fear the changes it makes on our bodies, the physical changes that occur as we grow old, but the fear of ourselves and our future.
To illustrate this, most of us don’t fear being unable to walk properly in the future, but people fear being abandoned by others because of disability. The fear of loneliness in the future, the mere thought of being discarded and thrown after being used for many years – that’s what people fear about becoming old. However, for us to get over this fear, we must be able to switch the narrative of what aging is and does and change our perspective on caring for the elderly.
Caring for the Elderly has always been viewed as something tedious and unbecoming. In fact, taking care of someone older often gives the impression that you look out for someone and that you are often being demeaned and bullied by elderly patients such as those with dementia.
Moreover, many would prefer not to take care of their parents and send them to homes where caregivers and nurses look after them. However, most of the time, this mentality is far from true. Taking care of the elderly is not as “high maintenance” as many people believe, and there are, in fact, many ways for us to be able to care for the aged, such as:
Check their Medications and Diet
Checking their medicines is a given considering that most of the elderly have multiple medicines, vitamins, and supplements, to take because of their aging and ever-changing bodies. Doing this does not only help them in looking out for their health but also gives them the impression that you love and care for them since you look after their well-being.
Monitoring their diet is also vital for the elderly since many vitamins and minerals are necessary to prevent illness and injury. Vegetables, milk, protein, and dairy are just a few of the necessary food items in maintaining the right amount of essential nutrients. Care for teeth plays a significant role in nutrition, so frequent check-ups to the dentist will also be instrumental for optimum nutrition.
Make Home Modifications
When living with the elderly, a few modifications must be made in order to make their lives easier, considering that some of them already have difficulty in some activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, mobility, toileting, dressing, and grooming.
Due to these, many alterations may be made to aid the elderly in their every tasks. Examples of these are installing a shower, placing railings in walking areas, transferring them to a lower room (so they will take fewer stairs), and the likes are just a few of the ways to aid them in their daily activities.
Exercise becomes more vital as you get older. It helps the elderly move their muscles and joints, eventually strengthening them and preventing injuries and aching from immobility. Exercise also helps the elderly lower their ever-rising blood sugar levels, manage their blood pressure, and improve renal hemodynamics.
Aside from health reasons, exercising with the elderly helps them socialize with other people as well. It may be within the family, like taking a walk early in the morning with their children or grandchildren, or it may also help them meet other people.
Find a Caregiver
It is a given that staying with the elderly 24/7 is impossible since many have jobs. However, most elderly benefit from having a single person take care of them for a whole day. This does not help them with their daily tasks, or give them just someone to talk to or be close to, but it also gives them a sense of routine and security which most people long for at their age.
For those who opt to take care of their own parents, caregiving can be done and learned by almost anyone. As better depicted in a book by Eleanor Gaccetta, “The best part about caring for the elderly is the opportunity it provides for one to grow, to improve, and to conquer fear,” caregiving does not only benefit the elderly, or help them save money from hiring a professional, but it also offers a person a sense of fulfillment and gratitude.
Communicating with the elderly may seem like a given, but talking with the elderly is actually one of the most neglected tasks concerning geriatric care. Most of the time, they long for someone to talk to not only about their experiences of the past but also some to confide in when they have fears and uncertainties, especially those pertaining to the future.