Many people who take care of an elderly person are themselves senior citizens, and sometimes they are even older than the person they care for. Common situations include when a spouse cares for another spouse, or a sibling cares for a brother or sister, but it occurs fairly often with children, too. Someone in his or her 70s could be caring for parents in their 90s. If you find yourself of a certain age and caring for another older person, keep a few things in mind.
Care for yourself
Research shows that caregiving takes its toll in many ways, especially constant, long-term caregiving. For example, you may be more at risk of depression if you care for a spouse, and your blood pressure may rise. The bottom line is not to neglect yourself as you perform caregiving duties. Make sure you have time to yourself to socialize and to pursue hobbies. Enlist the help of professional caregivers, and even ask neighbors to do errands once in a while. Long-distance family members can also help, for example, through online grocery shopping.
Another critical component of caring for yourself is to make plans for the possibility that your health fails. Through estate planning, you work proactively to uphold certain quality of life standards for both yourself and the person you care for, and you can even give some of your wealth to heirs early before medical care potentially takes it all.
Focus on safety
Homes pose many safety risks for elderly people. For instance, rugs are tripping and slipping hazards, so they should be taped down. Rubber mats in the shower and rails in the bathroom and other areas such as the front porch stairs can help you and your loved one avoid slipping and falling.
To avoid medication mix-ups, use large-print labels and never take or dispense a medication if you cannot read the labels well. Depending on your age and health, it may also be a good idea for you, in addition to the person you care for, to have a necklace or bracelet alert in the case of a fall. Perhaps most importantly, be aware of your abilities and limitations. For instance, if your memory is not what it used to be, you need to take proactive steps to still be able to care well for your loved one.
Taking care of another while you're in your later years can be difficult . Getting in touch with an attorney for estate planning can ensure that both you and the person you care for are in good hands.