The importance of family in the lives of the elderly is truly immeasurable. Not only does family provide a consistent social network, but also, the relationship a senior keeps with his or her family has a direct impact on their overall quality of life. Seniors who maintain strong ties with their family have even been known to outlive those who report less favorable relationships.
Loneliness is an issue many adults face in their senior years, putting them at a higher risk of developing age-related health conditions, as well as depression. However, regular interactions with their family members can boost the mental, physical and emotional health of older adults.
Having strong relationships with their children, grandchildren and other family members can help the elderly receive the human interaction they crave. Having emotional support can prevent many of the behavioral challenges the elderly experience.
Interacting with family can provide seniors with brain stimulation. Senior adults will need to use critical thinking skills when going on social outings with his or her children and grandchildren, which is beneficial in staving off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. While participating in conversations and activities with family, seniors rely on both short-term and long-term memory reminiscing about past memories while creating new ones.
Increasing Physical Activity
Inactivity is a serious health issues for seniors, but having family around to stress the importance of exercise and other healthy habits can boost quality of life.
Getting out of the home to run errands, go on walks and get other forms of exercise can boost heart health, strengthen bones, prevent obesity, and lower the risk of disease.
Encouraging a Sense of Belonging
Watching cognitive abilities decrease as they age can cause seniors to be angry, resentful, and depressed. They may also feel like they’re of no value and isolate themselves from society. However, having family around can give seniors a sense of belonging, regardless of their current health. They’ll be surrounded by people who love them and value their opinions and wisdom, giving them the strength and motivation to live a healthy lifestyle. Keeping a loved one engaged in purposeful activities can greatly boost self-esteem.
The Responsibilities of a Family Caregiver
When older adults are no longer capable of independent functioning, relatives step in. Family members who serve as the primary caregiver to elderly loved one are known as family caregivers. These individuals are charged with carrying out primary duties that affect seniors’ everyday lives.
Family caregivers have multiple roles when caregiving for an aging adult. Caregivers may start out helping a loved one intermittently and then progress toward greater responsibilities as the senior becomes frailer, cognitively impaired, disabled or ill with advanced cancer, Parkinson’s or dementia.
The family caregiver may notice a loved one having trouble with routine activities, such as balancing a checkbook. Minimal assistance at this point is necessary. On the other hand, a family caregiver may suddenly assume more advanced caregiving duties when the senior undergoes a hip fracture or stroke.
Consequently, the responsibilities of a family caregiver depend on the extent and nature of support needed. It is worth noting that the level of caregiving duties may wax and wane. A stroke patient may require intense support at first; and, as the senior regains function, caregiving gradually decreases. The following is a list of typical caregiving responsibilities.
Responsibility #1: Assistance with ADLs
Most, if not all, family caregivers, however, provide a range of essential support with routine life tasks. Assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), like managing finances, laundry, household chores, home maintenance, bill payments, transportation, and meal preparation, are expected duties of family caregivers.
Seniors also require help with self-care tasks, such as bathing, grooming, toileting, and dressing. On average, just under 20 percent of family caregivers provide assistance with self-care tasks either every day or most days. Family caregivers help care recipients with medication management and doctor’s appointments.
Responsibility #2: Emotional and Social Support
The level of emotional support in the caregiving may develop gradually, as frailty increases, or symptoms of cognitive decline begin to emerge. Conversely, the emotional impact on the relationship may swerve suddenly in the event of an unanticipated health crisis.
Providing emotional support to an elderly individual who has suffered a stroke, for example, will be the most time-consuming aspect of the caregiving role. The senior’s bouts of depression or sadness, feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, anxiety, and worry require intense emotional support.
Responsibility #3: Medical Tasks
The family caregiver may be required to perform a variety of healthcare duties at home. Medications may be administered, not only orally, but also via patches, injections and intravenously. In instances of severe illness, the family caregiver will likely need to manage equipment, such as feeding tubes or catheters.
Symptom management and monitoring the senior’s condition are also the family caregiver’s responsibilities. The caregiver will manage fever, dehydration, delirium, and complex medication regimens. Hands-on procedures, like infusion pumps and wound care, are also increasingly in the realm of family caregivers.
Responsibility #4: Care Coordination
Family caregivers are usually responsible for making doctor’s appointments for their loved ones. The caregivers will coordinate transportation to the doctor’s office, speak to the doctor, administer prescription medications and handle the medical insurance.
As advocates, the family caregiver is responsible for identifying and procuring resources to facilitate their loved one’s healthcare. They may deal with potential payers, like Medicare, Medicaid and Medigap. The caregiver will also help with the transition to a new care setting, like an assisted living facility.
Responsibility #5: Decision Making
Seniors with mild cognitive impairment have the ability to express their wishes. When cognitive decline is severe, the family caregiver will be responsible for making decisions on the loved one’s behalf.
Medical Transportation Needs
There may come a time when a loved needs to be transported for medical treatment or specialized care, or to return home from a care facility. This often involves long distance transport which may entail interstate and overnight travel. When that time comes, TransMedCare is here to help. We go the extra mile to ensure the safe transport of your loved one for distances of 300+ miles with all the comforts of home. We adhere strictly to CDC guidelines and provide caring, personal attention along every mile. A caregiver is assigned for the entire journey and we welcome family members and pets to ride along. We are committed to creating a loving and familiar environment on the road with an emphasis on compassion. Call us at 888-984-3722 and let us know how we can help.
Sources: Armada Senior Care, Assisting Hands, Home Assistance Denver
From your initial contact, we start the process of coordinating your loved one’s transport bedside to bedside.
TransMedCare provides the following non-emergency medical transportation services:
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TransMedCare is a Non-Emergency Transportation Business. (Transports must be 300+ miles.)