Imagine reaching a point in your life where it’s no longer safe to be alone. How you’re unable to do something as simple as take a trip to the grocery store or cook a nice meal for dinner. This is the freedom that’s pulled away from our elderly loved ones when they’re in the late stages of life.
There are roughly 1.3 million elderly Americans living in retirement homes.
These individuals are there for several reasons:
- Health-related issues
- Financial limitations
- Support & care
A family doesn’t want to see their loved one at these locations but there’s not much one can do especially when they have lives of their own to live. The same for the elderly individual – the last thing they want is to give up their freedom before they’re ready to accept help.
With boomers increasingly finding their way into these retirement homes, you want to extend this time if possible. There are a few ways to go about doing this.
Assessing the Need for Support
Everyone is different as to what care they may require to retain freedom – speak to a medical professional about this – but it’s lumped into two categories:
- Physical well-being
- Psychological well-being
You must remember the frailty of these elderly individuals. A small scratch may take months to heal while a major happening (such as a broken bone) is a catastrophe and may never fully recover. Luckily, physical prowess is generally easy to assess via monitoring. If the individual retains activity then they’re a good candidate to continue their lifestyle at their home.
- Falls are the leading cause of accidental death; this would be a great time to consider using a fall alarm system in between those monitoring sessions.
Then consider the psychology. A loss of a significant other could have sent the elderly individual into a downward spiral in which social interaction (at these homes) may do good. Dementia is another unfortunate reality. Assessing the individuals for their psychological well-being is best done by a professional though there are signs to notice their cognitive abilities.
- Look for the signs of dementia: memory loss, communication problems, and reasoning troubles.
Get real with this assessment even though they’re your loved one. This is for their personal well-being so you should take in the facts and make a logical decision. Basing this assessment on their word is not the best way to go about it.
What We Can Do To Help
We want to see our loved ones enjoying the later years of their life with the freedom they had throughout it. Plus, we’ve read horror stories of abuse in nursing homes due to neglect. Keeping them out of these places are in the best interest of both parties.
So, what can we do to help the elderly?
- Visit often – To promote discussion (keeping them sharp) and physically active (by getting out)
- Encourage socialization – Church and game groups provide a great social gathering
- Give them responsibility – Find something regular they can do like a small job or care for a pet
- Do regular checkups – Use the opportunities to do hearing and vision tests
- Teach them new things – Show them how to use the Web and other fascinating technologies
- Walk in their shoes – Adjust the comforts and utilities to make things easier to use
- Talk – Not only to your loved one but their neighbors to get them outgoing and friendly
- Get them out – Take them to lunch or the park; don’t let them sit and toil away
These loved ones aren’t to be left to their own meddling because they have so much more to do! Why waste those precious, active years of the later stage of life by sending them away to a home. They know their limits – though confirm this – so let them live and retain the freedom they want.
What are you doing to help your elderly loved ones enjoy their life?