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Top 10 Issues to Address When Helping Older Parents or Loved Ones

Updated: Apr 1



Caring for older parents or loved ones involves addressing a myriad of challenges that span various aspects of their lives. Working in managing geriatric care, both remotely and in-person, our team has learned a lot about what families and informal caregivers of elderly loved ones commonly need help with. Management of senior care is often thought of as mostly revolving around in-home care, but our philosophy entails a more holistic approach that covers person-centered care that focuses on improving quality of life and helping clients regain as much as possible of their autonomy and comfort. For those who help care for an aging person, here, we delve into the top 10 areas where they commonly need assistance, shedding light on the complexities that informal caregivers may face:

 

  1. Transportation: Elderly people who have limited transportation options tend to, sadly, miss out on a lot of life. They are more likely to skip non-urgent doctors’ appointments, be inconsistent with picking up their medications, socialize much less frequently, and skip out on activities outside their place of residence that can bring joy and greatly improve their mood and mental well-being. Seniors can face challenges with driving because of physical limitations or cognitive decline. Many have a harder time figuring out public transportation and ridesharing options in a world that’s becoming more highly reliant on phone and computer literacy. Helping an aging loved one explore alternative transportation options, such as community shuttles or rideshare services, can help maintain their independence. Offering to give them a ride without them having to ask can make an immense difference for seniors who tend to avoid becoming “burdensome” by asking for favors.

  2. IADL (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living): Basic activities like bathing, meal preparation, and managing medications can become more challenging with age. Identifying areas where support is needed and implementing solutions, such as home health aides or assistive devices, is crucial. Working with a geriatric care management company (like Senior Steps!) can mean having expert help in recognizing easy-to-miss signs of decline in an elderly person’s ability to feed, bathe, and look after themselves, remember to take their medications and supplements, keep their living environment hygienic and free of clutter, and more. It’s crucial to find ways to get ahead of IADL’s for seniors to avoid health issues and serious decline in their quality of life.

  3. Housing: Assessing the suitability of living arrangements is essential as mobility and safety concerns may arise. Making modifications to the home, such as installing handrails or ramps, clearing snow or ice from the driveway, removing carpets that can cause falls, or exploring assisted living options, can enhance the living environment for seniors.

  4. Financial Planning: Understanding and managing finances become increasingly challenging for seniors. In addition to helping with day-to-day budgeting, caregivers may need to explore options like financial counseling or assistance programs to ensure financial stability. Planning ahead is important, and if you feel overwhelmed, a geriatric care expert on our team can point you in the right direction with a simplified checklist of what needs to be done as well as referrals to trusted service providers. (Senior Steps never takes commissions from legal, financial, or healthcare service providers and only provides referrals based on what’s based for our clients.)

  5. Healthcare Navigation: Navigating the complex healthcare system can be overwhelming for seniors. Assisting them in scheduling appointments, understanding medical information, and adhering to medication regimens is essential for maintaining their health and well-being. Coordinating between several healthcare providers is key to a holistic approach with open communication lines to avoid bad interactions between various treatments and medications.

  6. Social Engagement: Encouraging social activities and maintaining connections with friends and family is crucial for seniors' mental and emotional well-being. This may involve coordinating social events, organizing transportation, or introducing them to community programs. Isolation can be detrimental to people of all ages, causing long-lasting structural damage to their mental and physical well-being, and seniors are most prone to experiencing it. Staying socially active can be as important as taking care of one’s physical health for longevity and quality of life.

  7. Legal Matters: Addressing legal concerns, such as creating or updating wills, establishing power of attorney, and exploring advanced care directives, ensures that seniors' wishes are respected and legally protected. Prepare as far in advance as possible. 

  8. Nutrition and Meal Planning: Ensuring a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for seniors' overall health. Caregivers may need to assist with meal planning, grocery shopping, and preparing meals, considering any dietary restrictions or health conditions. Caregivers with busier schedules should consider automated meal-delivery options!

  9. Memory and Cognitive Health: Monitoring and addressing changes in memory and cognitive function is crucial. Engaging in activities that promote brain health, such as puzzles or cognitive exercises, can be beneficial. Regular check-ups with healthcare professionals can also help detect early signs of cognitive decline.

  10. End-of-Life Planning: Discussing and planning for end-of-life preferences, including funeral arrangements and hospice care, is a sensitive but necessary aspect of caregiving. Providing emotional support during these conversations is essential for both the senior and the caregiver.

 

How a Geriatric Care Manager Can Help:

While informal caregivers juggle numerous responsibilities, a geriatric care manager can provide valuable support. These professionals specialize in coordinating and managing the care of older adults, offering assistance in areas like healthcare navigation, facilitating legal matters, and providing guidance and advocacy in finding housing options. Their expertise can lighten the load for caregivers, ensuring a comprehensive and tailored approach to the unique needs of aging loved ones.

 

Addressing the diverse needs of older parents or loved ones requires a thoughtful and organized approach. Recognizing these common issues and seeking support from a geriatric care manager can enhance the caregiving experience and ultimately improve the quality of life for seniors. The collaborative effort between informal caregivers and geriatric care managers ensures a holistic and compassionate approach to aging care.

 

If you would like to speak to someone about getting help with managing care for an elderly loved one, consider contacting our team by filling out the form at seniorsteps.org/book-online. Consultation calls are FREE and confidential. We are happy to tell you more about our services and how we can help you (remotely or in-person) or point you to a different resource.

 

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