Approximately 34.2 million adults in the United States currently provide care for an adult who is over the age of 50. Are you one of them?
Whether you’re a full-time caregiver or if you just provide care a couple of times per week, it’s important to make sure you’re doing the best you can to give your elderly loved one what they need.
Even if they live in a separate facility, there are still steps you can take to ensure they’re cared for properly.
Read on for some tips that will teach you the right way to advocate for your elderly loved one and ensure they are able to grow old gracefully.
Importance of Advocating for Elderly Loved Ones
First of all, let’s go over the importance of advocating for your elderly loved one.
You might assume that, if they’re receiving help from a home health aide or are living in a permanent care facility, they don’t require help from you, too. This definitely isn’t the case, though.
Catch What Doctors Can’t
Your parent or loved one may have doctors or nurses working with them on a regular basis, but no one knows them as well as you do.
You need to be on the lookout for signs that something is wrong. After all, doctors and nurses are busy people — it’s possible that they might miss something when they’re working with your parent.
Protection from Abuse
Watching out for and advocating for your elderly parent also helps to protect them from elder abuse. It’s a sad reality, but elder abuse occurs in a number of hospitals and permanent care facilities.
If your parent has a hard time communicating or doing things for themselves, they could be at risk of elder abuse. With you advocating on their behalf, though, they’re much less likely to fall victim to this serious crime.
How to Advocate for Elderly Loved Ones
Okay, you can see that it’s important to continue advocating for your elderly loved ones even when they receive outside help or live in a permanent care facility.
How do you actually advocate for them, though? What does it mean to be an advocate?
Here are some steps you can take to provide your elderly parent with the support and care they need:
The first step to take when it comes to advocating for your loved one is to get educated about their condition.
Do as much research as you can to learn about their condition and the symptoms that accompany it.
Understand what it will look like when their condition progresses and what kinds of treatment options are available to help them be more comfortable if things start to get worse.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. When you’re with your parent or loved one, ask them how they’re feeling and what kinds of symptoms they’re experiencing.
Talk to other people who are spending time with them, too. This might be a roommate, another family member, or a family friend.
Talk to these people and ask them if they’ve noticed anything strange going on with your parent that you ought to know about.
Know Where to Find Answers
If you’re not getting the answers you need from your parent or other people in their life, it’s important to know where else you can look to find the information you need.
Make sure that you have the phone numbers of their doctors and care providers, for starters.
You need to know where to look online for answers, too. Know how to find reputable websites and research articles that can teach you more about their condition.
Check in Regularly
Check in with your parent on a regular basis, too.
If you live close to them, try to stop in and see them in person at least once a week.
If you live too far away for this, at least make an effort to call or video chat with them once a week, if not more frequently.
The more often you check in with them, the easier it will be for you to see how they’re doing and pick up on signs that something is wrong.
Help Them Stay Comfortable
Do what you can to keep your parent comfortable, too. This is especially important if they’re in a hospital or permanent care facility.
Bring items from home to help them feel grounded and more at ease.
Be sure to bring other comfort items, too, such as moist wipes, fresh towels, a comfortable bathrobe, and some of their favorite books or magazines.
Learn to Spot Signs of Abuse
It’s important to look out for your parent, but you need to know what you’re looking out for. Many people have no idea what elder abuse looks like. Here are some signs you ought to watch out for:
- The presence of physical harm — bruises, cuts, burns, etc.
- Social withdrawal
- Poor personal hygiene
- Weight loss
If you notice any of these signs, talk to your parent’s caregivers right away. Talk to everyone who spends time with your parent, even if it’s just for a visit, as well.
If your parent is staying in a permanent care facility or receives care from a home health aide, reach out to the head of the facility or company and let them know what’s going on or what you suspect.
Help Your Loved One Grow Old Gracefully
It’s easy to feel helpless when your parent or loved one starts to get older. You might even find yourself thinking that there’s nothing you can do to help and support them.
As you can see, though, there are a lot of different ways that you can advocate for your elderly parent or loved one and make sure they’re getting the care they need.
Do you want to learn about other ways to care for an elderly loved one? Do you want to know what you can do to help them grow old gracefully?
If so, we’ve got lots of helpful articles that ought to check out. Start with this one on proper oral care for seniors.