Navigating the Aging Process
Aging is a natural and inevitable part of the human experience. But for those gradually losing their independence and the caregivers witnessing this, it can be a challenging time. This transformative journey is filled with a range of emotions and lessons. The experience shapes not only the lives of those being cared for, but also the caregivers themselves.
Fortunately, there are several things caregivers can do to make this time in life easier. Here are a few ways to help your aging loved one feel more independent while lightening the caregiver load.
Maintain Dignity and Autonomy
Preserving the dignity and autonomy of your loved one during this transition is a delicate balancing act. It’s essential to involve them in decisions about their care, giving them a sense of control over their lives. Empowerment can come from finding ways to adapt activities to their abilities. This enables them to participate in decision-making and fosters a sense of purpose.
Check in with your aging loved one regularly to see how they are feeling about the changes in their life. Be sure to “listen to and respect your loved one’s desires. The person you’re caring for always should participate in discussions about his needs and plans, to every extent possible,” according to the AARP. Creating an environment where your aging loved one feels heard will benefit both of you in the long run.
Choose Technology that Can Help
Utilizing technology geared for seniors can help give the elderly independence and their caregivers peace of mind. Electronic Caregiver offers several products that can help the aging and chronically ill stay in their homes longer. Not to mention, ease the burden for caregivers. Electronic Caregiver’s most innovative and engaging product is Addison Care. The Virtual Caregiver Addison allows clients to continue living life on their terms.
In a recent Electronic Caregiver commercial demonstrating Addison’s capabilities, Deborah sits alone in her living room, flipping through an old photo album detailing her past adventures and memories. There was the time she canoed the Danube River, her first time skydiving, and her backpacking trip across Europe. Then there was her wedding day, and the birth of her first child. And of course, the cherished photos of her husband and the note he left her before he passed away.
Deborah is now into old age and has less energy and mobility than she used to. But she can keep living independently and doing the things she enjoys with the help of Electronic Caregiver’s digital health technology. Using Addison, paired with Electronic Caregiver’s Premier mobile system, Deborah has the confidence and security to continue going on her adventures.
Watch how Deborah uses the Virtual Caregiver Addison here:
Caregivers and Aging Loved Ones Benefit from Addison
Addison Care can benefit both clients and their caregivers. The Virtual Caregiver interacts with and reminds users of important appointments and to take their prescribed medications. Additionally, the Virtual Caregiver conducts health surveys and assists patients in recording vital sign measurements to monitor specific conditions. Addison tracks vital sign trends over time. This allows clients and their care team, including caregivers and providers, to catch any health changes before they become problematic. Addison also alerts designated contacts if a medication is missed or an emergency occurs.
Most importantly, Addison keeps clients engaged in their care plan. This is vital, as non-adherence “causes nearly 125,000 deaths, 10 percent of hospitalizations, and costs the already strained healthcare system between $100 – $289 billion a year,” according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
A Constant Companion
Part of the reason clients maintain engagement with Addison is because the Virtual Caregiver acts as a constant companion. Clients can play games with Addison and interact with fun features throughout Addison’s virtual world.
Clients can also choose a Virtual Caregiver avatar that relates to their cultural background and preferences. Furthermore, clients can select certain holidays for Addison to celebrate. To recognize these holidays, festive décor will appear in the Virtual Caregiver’s living environment during various times of the year.
These features allow clients to feel a greater connection with Addison and decrease feelings of loneliness.
Make Sure Your Aging Loved One’s Home is Safe
Along with investing in technical solutions, it’s important to make sure your aging loved ones’ home is a safe place. Help them rearrange furniture and make modifications in their living environment to prevent falls and injury. Certainly, this allows your loved one to live more independently.
The National Institute on Aging suggests taking the following steps at home to decrease risk for falls:
- Don’t use area rugs and check that all carpets are fixed firmly to the floor.
- Replace handles on doors or faucets with ones that are comfortable for you to use.
- Install grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower.
- Avoid falls by placing no-slip strips or non-skid mats on tile and wood floors or surfaces that may get wet.
- Place light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and remember to turn on night lights.
- Install a ramp with handrails to the front door.
Check out this blog for more tips on home safety: Falls Can Be Prevented to Age in Place Safely
Have a Caregiver Team to Back You Up
Technology serves as a great help to caregivers. But it’s still a good idea to organize a team to assist in caregiving duties. Most importantly, having a group of people to rely on can improve care for your loved one and take the stress off just one person.
The size of your care team will depend on how much assistance your aging loved one needs. Consider hiring professional help if possible and reach out to family members and friends for support. Don’t forget to look into community resources in your area, as well. Above all, remember to treat your loved one as part of the team, according to the AARP.
Here are some suggestions for organizing an efficient care team, provided by the AARP:
- Go deep and go wide. Even team members with little free time can play valuable roles. For example, they can take on smaller tasks, such as bill paying, providing financial help, or meal organizing. Play to each other’s strengths and skills and assign duties accordingly.
- Decide who’s in charge. Designate a point person to organize and ensure duties are completed as assigned. Usually, one person takes on the primary caregiver role. Meanwhile, the others on the care team take on smaller roles or sub in as caregiver as needed.
- Consider a mediator. Even if you are part of a close-knit team, disagreements may arise. When this happens, it can be helpful to bring in an outside facilitator to help settle any conflict. For example, this person can be a professional caregiver, a social worker, or minister. In addition to improving communication, the mediator can ensure everyone stays focused and productive.
Care for Yourself
If you want to provide the best care for your aging loved one, it’s important to take care of yourself. Be sure to continue to make time for things you enjoy. Don’t neglect vital habits, like exercising, getting adequate sleep, and eating healthy, according to the AARP.
Additionally, look for ways you can make your role as a caregiver easier. For example, can your workplace make any adjustments to accommodate your new responsibilities? Perhaps you can work from home some days, take extra time off, cut down on your hours, or modify the times you start and end your day.
Lastly, try to incorporate stress relief into your everyday routine. This can be practicing yoga or meditation, getting a massage, or taking a relaxing bath. Making time to hang out with friends can also ease stress and energize you. If you feel you are really struggling, talking with a therapist can provide an outlet and improve your mental health. Your aging loved one may also find benefit from these stress-relief techniques.
Finding Meaning in the Aging Journey
In conclusion, experiencing aging and taking care of an aging loved one comes with its challenges. But the technology and resources available today can make the journey a little easier.
Moreover, accepting the changes and maintaining a positive outlook can foster great benefits during this time. Certainly, the process can deepen relationships, allowing caregivers to connect with their loved ones on a profound level. Finding meaning in the journey can help you and your loved one cope with the difficulties and find a sense of purpose.