More than 1.2 million Australians received ageing care services between the years 2017 and 2018, with 77% of people receiving in-home support or support through a community-based setting. However, with many people preferring to stay at home, many rely on loved ones to take care of them or check in on them from time to time. From heading to the park for some exercise to encouraging a regular dental routine, here are three simple ways you can take care of your senior loved one’s needs or the needs of another senior within the community.
Dental and personal care
One of the most important aspects of caring for an older loved one or senior in the community involves ensuring that their personal needs are met. This involves dental care, as well as other personal care routines, such as getting dressed in the morning. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do.
For instance, making sure your loved one has clothing that can suit their needs, such as pullover shirts and pants with a simple drawstring, can help those with arthritis to keep their independence for longer, as opposed to clothes with finicky buttons and zippers. Ensuring that they have other helpful tools, such as a chair designed to sit in the bath can make showering on their own easier as well. Additionally, using resources such as My Aged Care, (a government website and phone line) can help you find out if your loved one is eligible for services like home modification that can help to install things like handrails in the home, which can make personal care much easier.
Other aspects of personal care, such as dental care becomes increasingly important as we age, due to the fact that there is a heightened risk of issues like cavities, decay, and other periodontal diseases due to common issues that come with older age, such as dry mouth and inadequate nutritional intake. Maintaining a proper dental care routine can become difficult for older adults, especially for those who have a health condition such as Alzheimer’s, which comes with symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, and a shortened attention span, which can further affect daily habits like dental care. By reminding your loved one to brush their teeth and helping them to do so if needed, you can ensure that they will be avoiding preventable issues such as gingivitis or cavities. It’s also important to pay attention to individual needs, such as properly taking care of dentures as well.
A proper diet
Maintaining a proper diet in older age is another issue that many seniors face, and for several different reasons. For example, illness can cause increased nutrient requirements, or a senior may be unable to go shopping for food regularly – or even may be unable to make 3 meals a day if they experience mobility issues. One of the best ways to help is by driving them to the store personally and shopping with them to ensure they’re getting everything they need.
You can also help by preparing them meals ahead of time and labeling them in the fridge, which can give the senior peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about cooking. Getting your loved one in touch with, or volunteering yourself for meal delivery services throughout Australia is also an option, through programs such as Meals on Wheels, which works to provide nutritionally balanced meals that are also catered towards dietary needs.
The importance of exercise
It’s necessary that exercise plays a role in every senior’s life when possible, as it can help to prevent conditions like diabetes and improve mood, as well as keep the body physically active. However, a shocking 30.4% of Australian adults didn’t reach the recommended levels of physical activity in order to stay healthy, according to a 2016 study by the World Health Organisation (WHO). With that said, if you’re looking after a loved one or senior within the community, encouraging them to get out and get active several times a week can be beneficial – even if it’s just a light walk. One of the best ways to encourage them to do so is to participate with them, or even plan out activities in advance, which can not only give them motivation but can provide them with company and something to look forward to at the same time.
Caring for an older loved one or senior within the community can be hard work as well as a rewarding experience. From dental care to proper exercise and diet, ensuring that they are well taken care of is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle as they age at home.