Caring for an elderly patient can be a daunting task. Even if you’ve placed an elderly loved one in a care facility, there is still the concern of whether or not they are being cared for properly.
The elderly represent a special group and there are several ailments which are more specific to them. Among them are:
· Slips and Falls
· Emotional Distress
· Memory Issues
· Vision Loss
· Hearing Loss
Any of these circumstances or conditions can cause pain and discontentment among the elderly. Here, we address these concerns and discuss methods that can be taken to prevent them.
Slips and Falls
Slips and falls are the leading cause of injury and death for the elderly. The elderly often suffer from osteoporosis, or brittle bones. As a result, they are more prone to being seriously injured after incurring a slip or fall. Stairs, low toilet seats, tubs & showers, and uneven flooring are a few things may present a challenge to the elderly. The good news is that there are several measures you can take to prevent slips and falls. If you take care of an elderly patient, you will want to make your home as safe as possible. If you are looking to place an elderly person in a care facility, you’ll want to ensure they’ve taken the following steps to ensure your loved one’s safety.
· Avoid Clutter –
Elderly patients should have a clear walkway, free of clutter and debris.
· Hand Rails and Safety Bars –
These should be present alongside stairs to help the elderly balance as they walk. It is also important to have them available in the bathing area. Safety bars will provide the elderly with extra security while getting in and out of the shower.
· Toilet Seat Riser –
The elderly often suffer from limited mobility, and as a result, getting on and off the toilet can be challenging. Toilet seat risers allow them to use the bathroom with ease, aiding them as they prepare to sit and stand.
· Lighting –
Ensure that stairwells and hallways are well lit to prevent unnecessary stumbling.
The elderly often suffer from loneliness and depression. It can be tough not being able to move around and be as independent as they once were. The health of seniors who suffer from loneliness has been known to decline faster than those who are consistently surrounded by others. Even when they are cared for, they may often feel like a burden, which further induces depression. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken prevent loneliness and depression in elderly individuals.
· Quality Time –
Spend quality time with the elderly person in your life. This means taking the time to listen and connect with them while showing genuine concern for their well-being.
· Outings –
Because elderly individuals are usually dependent on others, they are often secluded and rarely get a break from their surroundings. Give them something to look forward to by planning weekly outings and events.
· Activities –
Boredom can often be the catalyst for loneliness and depression. Keep the elderly enthused by making sure they have activities to keep their minds occupied. Crossword puzzles, board and card games, and social events are all ways to reduce the onset of loneliness and depression.
The elderly are at a higher risk of developing cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Caring for a loved one with memory loss can lead to increased concerns and challenges for the caretaker. While these diseases can’t yet be reversed after onset, measures can be taken to prevent them before they become a problem.
· Diet –
It is extremely important for the elderly to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Nutrient-dense foods are ideal because they contain vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that can help combat memory loss.
· Light Exercise –
Elderly individuals are not traditionally known for being physically active. However, even a daily walk can help to keep the brain alert and prevent sedation. Other options such as breathing and stretching exercises can positively stimulate the brain and heart, aiding in mental rejuvenation.
· Social Interactions –
Elderly individuals who are consistently stimulated socially have a better chance of remaining alert and preventing memory loss. Schedule activities that can take their mind off the worry of old age and help them feel alive again.
It is not uncommon for the elderly to experience impaired vision. Nearly one-third of elderly individuals will experience some form of vision loss after the age of 65. Vision disorders such as AMD, cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye can be reduced by the following:
· Regular Screenings –
Many eye diseases are void of any early warning signs, and so it is important to ensure regular eye exams. Elderly patients may not realize there is a problem until the disorder has cause impaired vision. Routine screenings can alert you of any concerns before they lead to advanced vision loss.
· Nutrition –
The appetite of the elderly is sometimes diminished for various reasons. Ensure they are getting the appropriate vitamins and nutrients by monitoring their food intake. A proper diet can assist in the prevention of many of the above mentioned vision disorders.
Age-related hearing loss is quite common among the elderly community. We all have little hairs that line our inner ear that transfer sound to nerve signals and help us to hear. When these hairs die, or are damaged, hearing diminishes. It isn’t yet known why age-related hearing loss occurs. However, if an elderly loved one is experiencing hearing loss, there are tools and devices to help them hear better.
· Hearing Aids –
As the most common approach to combat hearing loss, hearing aids are a cost effective way to allow the elderly to hear again.
· Hearing Implants –
The process of installing a hearing implant is a bit more invasive. An implant is surgically adhered, and can help the hearing impaired senior feel ‘back to normal’.
· Lip Reading –
Lip reading involves paying close attention to a speaker’s mouth, expressions, and physical movements. It is a practice that can be formally taught and is extremely useful to those who suffer from hearing loss. At times, lip reading may be used along with a hearing aid for increased understanding.
Transitioning into the later stages of life can be difficult for even the most brave senior. The growing dependency, physical changes, and emotional toil can be a lot to handle. Taking the above steps will place your mind at ease by knowing that you’ve made the effort and necessary adjustments to care for them properly. The elder in your life will thank you for doing your part to make their transition as smooth as possible.