When the time comes to move an aging parent or relative into a long-term care facility,Ā you may feel uncertain, even guilty, about lacking the resources to care forĀ your loved one at home. However, the best senior care facilities can improve the quality of life for residents while giving their families the peace of mind they need.
Family members can greatly impact the ease of the overall process. Filling out the requisite paperwork marks only one part of the journeyādealing with the emotional, mental and physical needs ofĀ the person moving to residential care takes precedence. Hereās how to make the move less traumatic on seniors that require both medical support and love.
Just because human beingsā physical bodies age, this doesnāt reduce their need for connection with others. Rather, friendships tend to grow more important as time goes by.
Take time to stay with a parent or other loved one long enough to help them introduce themselves to othersĀ at a similar stage of life. Doing so facilitates new friendships that may take the edge off transitioning into more restrictive care.
Promised mum a visit over the holidays? Honor that obligation. Many seniors, especially those in care facilities, report feeling invisible to other family members, like an obligation remembered only on birthdays.
Life does happen, and caring for a sick child may supersede the need to visit an ailing parent surrounded by medical professionals. However, give the courtesy of a phone call to explain the situation instead of ignoring the promised visit.
Physical exercise helps decrease the mental impairment associated with aging. In fact, regular physical activity can prevent Alzheimerās disease by as much as 50 percent. Seniors in decent health and without physical restrictions benefit from programs such as Silver Sneakers, which specially train fitness pros in how to work safely with aging populations.
For seniors with conditions like arthritis that can make working out more difficult, consider taking them to do some aquatic exercises at the local pool. These types of workouts allow senior adults to move their muscles more freely than traditional land-based workouts, like jogging, do.
Keeping the mind as well as the body healthy matters, especially for senior adults with a family history of dementia. Provide older family members with puzzle books and brain teasers designed to give gray matter some heavy lifting. A simple crossword puzzle canĀ help keep your parentās brain in better shape.
Likewise, involve elderly family members in decisions regarding their care as long as they remain competent to do so. Having input about their fate helps soothe fears many older adults experience when transitioning into long-term care.
Seniors tend to slide into depression, either from the reality of their physical failings, their need for more dedicated care or a combination of factors. Far from a strictly emotional problem, senior depression can lead to increased risks of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, suicide risk spikes sharply after age 80, especially among those with painful health conditions.
Assisted living facilities vary greatly in overall quality of care, so take time to speak with staff before signing any contracts or providing insurance information. Pay attention to nonverbal cues, such as pervasive odors spread over wide areas, as hints that the organization may neglect its residents.
The elderly need companionship even more so than other adults, so inquire as to whether a facility will allow an aging family member to keep a beloved pet. Also, ask about the degree of control residents exercise over their furniture and decorāsleeping in a familiar bed can help to ease the transition.
Growing old isnāt easy, and anyone living long enough to reach retirement age deserves respectful treatment. By caring for the elderly as fellow humans, not as problems, we as a society demonstrate our empathy as a culture. Show senior relatives the care they deserve by doing everything possible to make their move into assisted living smooth and pain-free.
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