Senior individuals will often need assistance to get through daily activities, but that is just one slice of elder care’s common needs. Seniors also need support, companionship, and specialized care too. It can, at times, be challenging to provide outside help to a senior who may feel her dignity and privacy are being compromised. Adult caregivers must often address the everyday needs of elder care and realize that many elders can still make decisions about their personal care.
Adult caregivers may find that activities like meal preparation, bathing, shopping, laundry, and more are some of the common needs of elder care. Taking steps to understand all the aspects of adult care can help you make your loved ones more comfortable and happy. We’ll explore some of the common needs of elder care and how you can go the extra mile to ensure senior individuals in your care feel safe and happy.
Help with Personal Hygiene
Bathing and hygiene can be challenging for elder care, both from a physical and emotional standpoint. There are some key things to keep in mind that can help your senior remain comfortable and minimize embarrassment.
- Create a schedule: This may vary depending on each elder’s health condition, but generally speaking, a daily sponge bath and a full bath 2-3 times each week may be sufficient. Setting a regular time for these hygiene activities can help senior individuals feel at ease.
- Prep the bath: Having the bath warm and ready can add ease to the bathing process. Wait until the tub is prepared before undressing the elder to help keep them warm while minimizing anxiety around bathing.
- Have towels ready: Keep the senior wrapped in towels, only uncovering the part of the body being cleaned. Keep a towel ready to wrap around the elder as soon as they come out of the bathing area.
- Be friendly: Bathing may not be the most comfortable experience for many seniors, so it can help carry on a natural conversation to aid in the relaxation process.
Supervision for Safety
Accidental fall injuries are common as people get older due to a decline of coordination, waning eyesight, and loss of bone density. Sadly, these types of falls account for up to a quarter of all hospital admissions. To avoid serious falls, take the precautions below.
- Tidy up: Decluttering the senior’s living space and ensuring that things are tidy is a significant way to prevent slips and falls. Staircases, hallways, and rooms should all be clear of items on the floor.
- Scan for tripping hazards: Things that others are used to navigating may be more difficult for seniors and even prevent tripping hazards. Scan the living area for wires, unsecured flooring, loose rugs, or any other tripping hazards that could present a danger to elders. Non-slip pads can be used to secure area rugs and runners to the floor.
In addition to fall accidents, seniors may face other hazards. Following the precautions below can ensure that the elderly are protected and safe at all times.
- Make assistance devices available: Some seniors may require walking aids like canes or walkers. These can be custom fit depending on each person’s mobility requirements, so be sure that any aids are tailored to the individual using them. These should be kept in an easy-to-reach location.
- Monitor medications: Many seniors have a medication routine involving several different medications. Help elders maintain their medication schedule and monitor their health and behavior for any new or worsening side effects. These can be discussed with their doctor at their next visit.
Mobility is a critical aspect in elder care, and it also strongly impacts an elder’s sense of independence and confidence. Often, seniors need assistance getting in and out of bed and may also need help walking or moving around with a walker or wheelchair. Caregivers should understand and practice the proper transfer skills for some of these activities, including:
- Lifting a person using your legs, not your back.
- Asking for help if a person is too heavy or presents other challenges
- Explaining to the senior how you plan to help to involve them in the process
Some elders may need help moving from their bed to a chair and vice versa. It is essential to position the chair as close to the bed as possible, ensuring that the senior’s strong side is closest to the chair. IF using a wheelchair, the brakes should be locked.
A gait belt can be used to transfer the elder from their bed into the chair and from the chair back to bed. This provides grip and support during transfer and can lower the caregiver and senior’s risk of injury. Adjustable beds may also be ideal for transfers as they allow seniors to get into a more comfortable position without risking unusual movement that could injure them.