The purpose of this article is to explain what it means to care for older people and how we can do so. It will also discuss some of the problems that arise when trying to provide good quality personal care, as well as ways in which these problems may be overcome.
The first section explains what it means to elderly care; the second discusses the importance of providing high-quality care; the third looks at the difficulties involved with doing so.
Importance of Care for Our Elders
Home care is very important for the elderly. Stressors like anxiety can increase as we get older, and this can lead to illness. With aging comes a need for comfort and ease in life, and elderly care is a great place to start.
In addition, there are many other reasons why it is important to look after our elders:
- They often need help from others. They cannot get around easily by themselves and their needs change over time. For example, someone who was once independent might now require constant supervision. Someone else might no longer want to go shopping but would like to cook meals for him/herself.
- The cost of looking after them increases dramatically as they grow old. There are costs associated with medical treatment, nursing homes, home helps, etc., all of which must be met either through private insurance or public funds
- Many older people suffer loneliness and isolation due to physical disabilities and the loss of friends and family members. They may not know anyone outside their immediate circle of relatives and neighbors.
- Older people tend to lose interest in new experiences and daily activities. As they age, they begin to think about death and dying. Many fear being alone and becoming dependent upon others. Some even believe that they should die before anyone else does.
- Older people tend not to make use of services provided by social workers, doctors, dentists, opticians, pharmacists, hairdressers, accountants, lawyers, financial advisers, estate agents, etc.
- As they age, they become increasingly dependent upon us. We should remember that we owe something to those who helped raise us.
In short, it is very difficult to live without an elder relative or friend. Therefore, we must take responsibility for their welfare.
What is Considered High-Quality Care?
Good quality care means that all elderly are treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. Good quality care also means that you are given information about what is going on and that you are involved in decisions about your care services.
Caregivers should understand that good quality care also mean below.
Providing Safe Environments
Caregivers should take every possible precaution to protect their charges against accidents and injury.
Giving Appropriate Information
Information about your loved ones’ health needs should be given regularly. You should explain anything unusual happening in their daily routine.
People who live independently usually enjoy greater freedom and flexibility. However, they require regular supervision.
Making Sure That They Receive Sufficient Nutrition
Older people need nutritious meals three times per day. A balanced diet helps prevent cardiovascular disease and promotes general wellbeing.
Helping Them Maintain Social Activities
Social contact is essential for mental health. It also provides opportunities for companionship and friendship.
Ensuring That They Do Not Become Socially Isolated
This may happen if they don’t attend any activities outside the home.
Taking Steps to Ensure That They Stay Physically Active
Regular exercise improves physical fitness and reduces the risk of falls.
Keeping Track of Medication Use
Medication errors occur frequently among older adults. To avoid this problem, caregivers should check medications before giving them to patients.
Keeping Records of Patient’s Condition
Records provide useful evidence when making decisions regarding healthcare provision.
Difficulties Arising When Providing Good Quality Care
Several factors affect whether or not we can give good quality care to our elders. These include:
Lack of Knowledge
Most of us know little about aging and its effects. However, even though we don’t understand much about it, we still try to behave responsibly towards our elders. Unfortunately, this leads to confusion and frustration among both ourselves and our elders.
Poor Communication Skills
Communication between staff members and clients is vital. Staff members need to communicate clearly and effectively with each other and with clients. Clients need to listen carefully and respond appropriately. Both parties need to respect one another’s views and opinions. It is also necessary to ensure that everyone understands exactly what is being discussed.
Unwillingness to Accept Limitations
People generally do not wish to admit that they are getting older. Consequently, they may refuse to acknowledge any problems arising from growing older. This causes stress and anxiety for both client and caregiver.
A Lack of Understanding of How Best to Provide Care
Sometimes caregivers fail to appreciate just how complex some aspects of caregiving are. For instance, when providing personal assistance, it is sometimes hard to tell whether a task requires strength or dexterity. Similarly, when giving advice, it is easy to assume that the recipient will agree with everything we say. But this isn’t always true.
An Inability to Adapt
Our lives continue to evolve throughout adulthood. We learn new ways of doing things and develop different interests. All these changes mean that we need to keep learning and adapting so that we remain relevant to society. In contrast, many older people have difficulty adjusting to change because they no longer feel able to cope with life on their own. They often find themselves isolated and lonely.
Being Too Busy
Too many of us spend far more time working than communicating with our elderly. The result? Many of the elderly will feel lonely and unhappy.
Not Having Enough Money
Money is needed to pay for food, clothing, transport, accommodation, medical treatment, etc. Without adequate funds, we cannot afford to look after ourselves properly.
Having Unrealistic Expectations
Some people expect to be cared for by family members until death. Others think that they will never get old and die. These beliefs can cause them great distress as they realize that they must face an uncertain future alone.
Guilt is something that most of us experience occasionally. When we make mistakes, we tend to blame ourselves rather than accepting responsibility for whatever has happened. As we grow older, however, guilt becomes increasingly difficult to deal with.
The above list shows why caring for the elderly is such a challenging job. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to assist you.
Ways to Respect Our Elders
Respecting our elders means treating them like adults who deserve dignity and respect. Here are some tips:
It takes patience to understand someone else’s point of view. Try to avoid making snap judgments about your elder’s behavior. Instead, try to see things through his/her eyes.
Elders don’t want to talk endlessly about trivial matters. So, before asking questions, take note of what your elder says. Then listen carefully without interrupting him/her. This way, he/she will know that you’re interested in hearing what s/he has to say.
Elders may not be aware of certain facts. Don’t treat them as though they were children. Rather, explain things clearly and patiently.
Sarcasm makes communication very difficult. It also tends to annoy those around you.
If possible, show genuine interest when talking to your elder. Ask open-ended questions instead of giving short answers. You’ll soon discover whether your elder enjoys being talked to this way.
Compliments go a long way towards improving relationships between friends and relatives. Make sure that you give your elder praise whenever appropriate.
As much as it pains us to admit it, sometimes we just don’t know what to do next. We need to learn from other people’s experiences so that we can cope better with similar situations in the future. Encouraging your elder to become independent helps her/him achieve this goal.
Why Is Dignity Important for Older People?
Dignity refers to how others perceive us. If they feel respected, they will have good self-esteem. In turn, this gives them confidence and boosts their morale.
When they lose their sense of dignity, they begin to worry about what others might think of them. For example, if they find out that we’ve been gossiped about or criticized behind their backs, they start doubting their worth.
This leads to feelings of shame and embarrassment. Such emotions often lead to depression. It also affects their ability to enjoy life because they no longer trust anyone.
Caring for the elderly requires patience, understanding, and compassion. But it shouldn’t be underestimated. Good quality care enables our elders to lead independent lives for years to come.