Aging people experience numerous problems. Our inexperience often gets in the way of understanding the problems of ageing people and stops us from taking better care of them. Elderlies go through a lot. Be it physiological changes in the body or chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, etc., This often reflects in the form of painful symptoms like knee and back pain, breathing issues, etc. Sometimes older adults can experience mental health issues like depression and forgetfulness too. Thus, eldercare becomes very important.
Problems faced by older adults
1. Physical health problems
2. Mental health problems
3. Communication problems
4. Technological problems
Physical health problems
– Mobility issues: As people get older their body undergoes a lot of change. Their muscles become weaker, and they start losing them. In medical terms, this is called sarcopenia. This causes problems in walking. So, they have trouble moving. Some people, especially older women, start losing the calcium in their bone (osteoporosis), which makes their bone weaker. This can again cause problems in movement and increases the risk of falls. If you’re parents are facing these issues, improving nutrition is the way to go. But before you make any changes to their diet or lifestyle, consult a geriatrician.
– Chronic conditions: Conditions like diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, COPD, etc. are common among older adults. These conditions need regular checkups and proper medication. If these conditions are not managed well, they can turn into sever symptoms like breathlessness, extreme knee and back pain, sight and hearing impairment, and other severe symptoms. Though visits to geriatricians are a must, you can take better care of your elders by understanding the cause of these conditions.
Older adults are often ignorant about their physical health and don’t want to bother their kids. So, it becomes even more important for us to check with them if they’re experiencing any problems.
Mental health problems
Several older adults experience loneliness and depression. This could be due to lack of communication with near ones or due to mental health disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease. So, it’s very important that you keep engaging with your older adults, but if you see serious issues like forgetfulness or frequent bursts of anger, you must take your parent to a geriatrician. Who can them perform a diagnosis.
Older adults who’ve lost their partner usually become sad and their interest in most things goes down. If you see you parent going through grief, you can help them by spending more time with them and engaging them in physical activities.
Seniors usually don’t talk about their problems with their kids. Either due to their ego or their inexpressive nature. This can lead to further problems, especially related to health. If your parents are used to keeping to themselves, talk frequently with them. So, you can understand their challenges better and try to resolve them.
Things are changing around us, especially with respect to utilities. Visiting banks, paying for electricity, shopping, etc. This can be difficult for older adults to adapt to, because they’re used to doing things traditionally. Spend some time with your parents and show them how they can use their mobile phones to video call friends and family, pay their bills, etc.
Now that we know the major problems experienced by senior people, let’s understand how we can address them.
How to care for older adults
As people get older, their lifestyle becomes sedentary (especially people who’re over 60 years) and they usually don’t care about their diet. Older adults continually experience physiological changes, so their nutrition and activities are important.
1. Check nutrition
As a care giver, you should ensure that your elderly is getting a well-balanced diet. Many conditions like osteoporosis can be managed with sufficient intake of calcium rich foods. Similarly, older people with diabetes must avoid food with high glycemic index. But before you make any changes to your parent’s diet, you must consult with you GP or a geriatrician. You can make a diet plan yourself too based on the advice of your physician or hire a dietitian to do so.
2. Regular health check-ups
Irrespective of your parent’s health condition, take them for regular health checkups. This way you can avoid any nutritional deficiency and impending diseases. Common dietary deficiencies among older adults include1 –
– Vitamin C, D, E, and B6
– Magnesium, potassium
Physical exercises (yoga)
Stretching and yoga benefits older adults in many ways. It helps reduce inflammation and hypertension. Regular yoga practice can help also help elders improve their overall health. Usually, we get caught in our work that we miss taking parents out for walk or exercises. A simple 20-30 minutes of daily stretching can help seniors significantly.
Research published in Einstein (Sao Paulo) also shows that resistance and aerobic exercises can help improve balance and strengthen in older adults too.3
Regular meditation has proven to improve concentration and focus. Enabling elders to do regular meditation can help keep their cognitive functions better, and diseases like dementia away. Furthermore, mindfulness meditation can help control pain as it allows people to focus on how people feel in the present. A research study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has also proven to improve sleep among older adults.2
Most social events are not senior-friendly. This often prevents us from taking them along to social gatherings. However, if their mobility allows them, take them with you to various social events. So, they can interact and stay social.
Spend more time with them
Spending time with elderly makes them feel valued and loved. Today, elderlies are healthier, educated, and wiser than previous generation. Spending time with them will also help you learn from their experiences. Research published in Bio Med Central indicates that elderly who live in nuclear families are more prone to depression than elderlies who live in joint family. 4
Challenges in Eldercare
Caring for elders comes with its own set of challenges. Adults usually experience –
- Lack of time: Most adults struggle to manage their office work with family. They often feel guilty of not spending quality time with their elderlies. So, let alone taking parents out of a walk or a doctor. If you feel that way too, don’t worry. Majority of the adults do. You can consider hiring an eldercare service provider who can manage your parents’ routine tasks like exercising, yoga, cycling, etc. If you struggle to manage office with the care of your parents, you can opt for elder services
- Increased risk of hospitalization: Like kids, elderlies can be ignorant too. They don’t take their medicines on time until they’re given. With office work and kids to manage, it can become challenging for adults to keep track of the parents’ medicines, which cause increased risk of hospitalization. This is especially true for elderlies with chronic diseases.
- Exacerbated chronic conditions: In the U.S. nearly 95% of older adults have at least one chronic condition (COPD, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, etc.) according to the National Council on Aging. These conditions can be managed with regular medication, exercises, and diet control. However, in the absence of a caregiver, these conditions can exacerbate and turn into painful symptoms. Elders with chronic conditions need 24/7 care, so their condition doesn’t worsen, and quality of life remains intact.
- Lack of accessibility: Several elderlies are bed-ridden or face problems in moving. They require wheelchair support. Since most places, including homes of relatives, friends and family is not wheelchair friendly, it’s challenging to take elders in those places. Furthermore, if we take them along, they need constant supervision.
Living away from parents: Many older adults live far from their kids. This is especially true for people who live in other countries. It makes it extremely difficult for them to care of their parents. While monitoring is available, it’s usually not sufficient for peace of mind we look for. Eldercare service providers like Senocare do a good job, by staying alongside with them 24/7.