As we navigate our lives and maneuver through all the challenges, highs and lows that we face each year, it can be easy to develop a sense of ‘tunnel vision,’ wherein we only focus on ourselves and our immediate family members. Sometimes, without negative intent, we can forget to prioritize the necessary health and care of our grandparents. If you have siblings, it can be tempting to let them sort the daily duties out, especially if they’re older and wiser than us.
However, the responsibility also falls on you to pull your weight in this matter. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your life, but a few hours each week being present for your grandparent, especially if they’re getting on in age, will mean more to them than you realize. Often, and depending on their needs, looking after a grandparents health can be as simple as making sure there are the correct support structures in place so they’re both independent and able to access quick, professional help.
This doesn’t necessarily mean encouraging them to live in a residential home, but often that can be the best, most reliable, most conscientious way to proceed.
The following list details the most important duties you can complete in order to help your elderly grandparent maintain a high quality of life, and how to best accommodate their health requirements.
Be realistic here. Your grandparent isn’t going to be running marathons or doing bodyweight exercises, but if they can still walk unimpeded, taking them for a stroll in the park a couple of times a week to feed the ducks can be a healthy way to get them in nature, stimulate heartfelt conversation and get their blood circulating. Make sure that any exercise that you do encourage, even a light stroll, is condoned by a medical professional who is aware of any health requirements your grandparent has. For the most part, it will prove a stimulating and great way to keep them flexible and able to maneuver around their home with ease.
Residential homes are often treated with apprehension in the elderly, but the truth is they can often be the best, most supportive environments they can occupy. Not only will your grandparent have professional medical support available for them 24/7, but they’ll be able to form relationships with those living there. The benefits of involving your grandparent in a community really can’t be understated. Regular community contact has been proven to help the elderly better combat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Also, having a support structure like this will help you keep your own personal piece of mind. In a residential home, trippable alarm cords are available throughout the property for the resident to pull if they have a fall or feel like they need assistance. It’s always best to be prepared for every eventuality, and residential homes provide that. To find out more, researching online can be useful.
Just make sure you visit your grandparent twice as often if they do attend one within the first weeks of their move-in. This will help them feel as though it’s their home to occupy and settle them in the space.
One of the better ways to keep on top of your grandparent’s health is to visit them often. Show them pictures of the life they led, let them know how you’re doing, and eat meals with them. Genuinely show interest in their opinions and what they have to say. Be considerate, and help them organize their medications if they need to take any. It might only feel like a couple of hours of gentle recreation for you, but it will mean the world for your relative.
Providing your grandparent with a simple puzzle book, jigsaws, or teaching them to use puzzle technology is a fantastic way to help them keep their cognitive abilities sharp, and ward off the mental cobwebs. There are technological devices available that are suitable for the elderly to use, so be sure to research the best product according to the digital familiarity of your grandparent.
Technology and the elderly are stereotypically not compatible. That stereotype is incorrect. Taking the time to teach your grandparent how to use and operate a cell phone will increase your communication ease with them, and you’ll be more available for small talk throughout the week. Cell phones can also be configured with alarms that allow your grandparent to be reminded to take their medication, as well as keeping on track with appointments and medical visits.
It can also help your grandparent access communities online, which is a growing trend that would do them well to understand and utilize if they show interest. They might not always be able to attend a local arts and crafts club, but they’ll be able to discuss their creations with similarly-minded people online. Just be sure you help them find the correct, mature community for their needs, and if they grasp it happily, be sure to teach them some general internet safety practices.
Keep Them Informed
Unfortunately, the elderly are often susceptible to financial scams through false telemarketing or mail promotions. Helping them stay aware of modern scams will help prevent them experiencing stressful situations. Keeping them up-to-date with what’s going on in the news, and asking their opinion on it might lend valuable insight they’d be happy to bestow. It’s always nice to feel included, and this goes twice for people who are in the latter stages of life.
The common theme in all of the points made in this guide is the value of presence. Your grandparent cherishes and loves you above all else. Make sure you let her/him know how you’re doing and show your gratitude. Keep them up to date with your life, all the little intricacies of it, and your relative is sure to feel valued, which is one of the healthiest emotions someone can experience. It falls to you to help make your grandparents later years blossom with love, warmth, and friendship. You might just learn a lot about yourself and your family if you do.