It’s no secret that giving them excellent care and love is the key to keeping people happy and healthy in their homes. Since caregiving is all of the things - the physical, financial, mental, relational, and emotional support for our loved ones, we want to help with some tips.
What skills do family caregivers of older adults need to provide thoughtful care? In this article, we highlight a few caregiving skills to help you help older adults be happy and thrive at home.
Communication skills are essential skills a caregiver or any person can have. Older adults are more likely to experience feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and fear when they don’t get the level of social connection they want or need. Friends and relatives are the perfect people to lift them.
Communicating is socialization, which is essential for mental health. It’s crucial to include seniors with friends and family members who live nearby or on social apps if they appreciate that too. Share information if you see changes in moods, routines, and preferences of the older person you are caring for.
Additionally, communication is listening; being a good listener is critical – listen actively to what they have to say and engage with them.
Being a caregiver is much more manageable when you have a flexible mindset and attitude. Physical flexibility is a bonus, but we’ll talk about that later.
A flexible mindset in caregiving is a couple of things. It is the willingness and ability to alter your schedule to accommodate a loved one’s needs. It is also the ability to creatively problem-solve situations as they arise. Being rigid can lead to frustration for everyone. Be the willow, not the oak.
We recommend taking advantage of the calendar and team posts in our CircleOf app. Use your calendar for events like doctor visits, appointments, prescription refills, bill payment reminders, or things you need to coordinate.
"If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain't nothing you can't get through together." - 'Ted Lasso'
Find ways to encourage them to do something that will help them stay physically active. Exercise can help older adults maintain strength, flexibility, and balance, which can reduce the risk of falls. Exercises that improve balance like Tai Chi or yoga help improve balance.
Caregivers can help with safe exercises and activities. If you need specific advice on which exercises are right for them, please approach this topic with a doctor or clinician.
Shopping, meal preparation, planning, and management are a big part of caregiving. Taste and preferences evolve as we age, but general nutrition is important to keep a close eye on.
A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein can help older adults maintain their strength and energy.
If planning, shopping, and prep are difficult to research, meal planning services like Balance by BistroMD have options based on dietary concerns like diabetes, gluten-free, lower sodium, menopause and others.
If you have people who want vegetarian or vegan options, try out MamaSezzz. We used the "lowering blood pressure" meal service which really helped us out. We also loved that they have free shipping and free recycling!
Keep the home and surroundings safe. Remove tripping hazards, such as throw rugs, and make sure that the home is well-lit to reduce the risk of falls. Keep a keen eye on lighting, floors, and especially the bathroom.
Nearly 80 % of falls at home occur in the bathroom for a variety of reasons, and this is why caregivers need to pay special attention to hazardous conditions in the home. These fall-related injuries can range from minor scrapes and bruises to broken bones, head, and spinal cord injuries.
Like people of all ages, older adults typically want social interaction and emotional support as part of a healthy, fulfilling life. Research in the article "Social isolation, loneliness in older people", links higher rates of physical health risks to older adults who are unhappy and distressed
Professional caregivers may be the only people older adults interact with daily, so emotional support like companionship, entertainment, and conversation is essential. Ask your paid caregiver to help reassure seniors experiencing a cognitive decline with conversation, music, and listening to their stories.
Another aspect of emotional support is touch. Many older adults will only get physical contact from medical practitioners. There is no substitute for the loving touch of a family member to reinforce emotional support.
Help older adults maintain as much independence as possible by assisting with tasks as needed, rather than doing things for them.
Caregivers provide seniors with physical assistance. Sometimes they need help with tasks like bathing, dressing, using the restroom, getting around safely, and eating. These are called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
Make sure that older adults are keeping up with regular check-ups and screenings, and be aware of any changes in their health or medications. For example, keep a current list of medications (name, dosage, how to obtain it), allergies, chronic injuries or illnesses, and any medical equipment currently around (or in) a body.
If you are their Health Care Power of Attorney, then you need access to their records and doctors. We work with Trust & Will to help with legal documents to help caregivers be able to help with paperwork support.
Activities and Sensory Stimuli
OK – this sounds a bit technical. It is human sensation basics. Activities keep boredom at bay, and sensory stimuli are a fancy way to engage all the senses. Our five primary senses are sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
Sensory stimulation is widely used in care for people with neurocognitive disorders, AKA as dementia. You use everyday objects to bring about positive feelings through the senses.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, sensory stimulation activities that are good for people with neurocognitive disorders include:
We hope that these tips and resources come in handy. If you have any that you think we should add - please reach out and let us know.
It’s no secret that taking care of elderly family members can be a challenging task. Not only do you have to worry about their physical and emotional well-being, but you also have to manage your busy life simultaneously.
If you’re a family caregiver, CircleOf is the app for you. It allows you to organize and collaborate with family and friends, maintain regular communication so everyone is on the same page. Download CircleOf today to build your circle of care.