With the festive season fast approaching many families will plan to spend time with elderly parents and grandparents. During these visits, you may notice little things telling you Mum or Dad are experiencing declining health and may need more help at home.
Parents are often a major source of support, so it’s difficult to acknowledge they need support themselves. The good news is there are many strategies and support options to help. With the right resources in place, Mum or Dad can remain happy and independent in their own home for longer.
- Balance problems
Do you notice Mum or Dad taking more time to stand and steady themselves before moving? Our balance is affected as we age, making us more unsteady and prone to falls.
What you can do: Exercise, yoga and even dancing improve balance and muscle strength. Remove any trip hazards around the home and install grab rails in bathrooms and slippery areas. Use a mobility walker or stick for extra stability. Replace stairs with ramps or install a chair-lift.
Chronic pain from conditions like arthritis affects movement and motor function. Everyday tasks like squeezing toothpaste or buttering toast can be very painful. The temptation is to rest. In fact, long periods of rest deconditions the joints, so over time pain increases.
What you can do: Avoid resting and continue activities at a slower pace. Get plenty of exercise and regular movement throughout the day. Support from family members or a professional carer can help with the heavier housework, freeing Mum or Dad to get out and keep moving.
- Vision and Hearing Loss
While some hearing and vision loss is considered a normal part of ageing, a severe loss can cause daily challenges for someone living by themselves, increasing the risk of falls and related injuries.
What you can do: If your parent is struggling to hear normal conversational volume or see well, they should have their eyes and hearing tested.
The early signs of dementia are often small cognitive changes, such as forgetting the steps in a simple task. There are physical and emotional signs too like personal grooming, disorganisation at home and poor diet.
What you can do: See a doctor. Early intervention can help reduce the symptoms and the impact on the individual and the family.
Depression and anxiety are serious health issues for older people. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, poor sleep, fatigue, changes in weight, low energy and irritability.
What you can do: Consult a GP about the various treatment options.
What to do if you can’t be there to care?
For some families, geographic distance or work commitments mean they can’t provide care themselves. In-home and community care can be there when you can’t, so you parent can remain independent, healthy and happy at home. Support with jobs around the house, social visits, shopping or appointments provides more than practical help and companionship. It also restores confidence, independence, emotional wellbeing and peace of mind.
If you’ve noticed some of these signs with your parents, in-home support can help. Contact Just Better Care Eastern Suburbs 02 9669 1965 to arrange a free in-home assessment.