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How to Care for the Elderly

by eHow Relationships & Family Editor

There are many things to consider when caring for the elderly, from finances to health concerns. Add to that mental and emotional issues you will both be facing- and caring for the elderly can seem like an insurmountable task. Don't be discouraged though because caring for the elderly can also be one of the most gratifying times in your life. Read on to learn more.

Physical Considerations

Get informed about physical illnesses by researching, talking to the doctor and talking to the elderly person. Know what to expect, what medications are needed and what possible side effects may occur. Talk to the doctor about getting home health nurses to help care for them during periods of sickness. Nurses aides may be available to help take care of the daily needs of bathing and dressing. Check with your county senior services agency to find out what services are offered.

Keep all medical information together, such as test results, names and phone numbers of doctors, appointment dates, social security number, Medicare cards and insurance papers. Make a chart of medications if the elderly person is taking a lot of them; a chart will keep track of what medication has been taken and the time.

Check the home for safety and easy access. If the elderly person is using a walker, make sure throw rugs are secure and take care there are no obstacles to trip over. Install safety railings if necessary. If the elderly person is in a wheelchair, make sure they have help getting in and out of the chair. Doorways may need to be widened and ramps installed for wheelchair access.

Emotional and Mental Considerations

Keep the brain active by playing word games, doing crossword puzzles or quizzes. Teach the elderly to access the internet and help them find an area of interest to them. Ask them to help you with a pet project or to write out their family history. Keep the elderly engaged in every day life for good mental health.

Be understanding when the elderly person seems to be stubborn about something. Put yourself in their position; they've given up their independence and must now rely on you for care. Any little thing that they can hold on to helps them feel more independent. When you understand why they are being so stubborn, it's much easier to handle and you'll have much less stress.

Take care of yourself as you care for the elderly. Your emotions can become very stressful when caring for the elderly; you're giving up your own freedom to care for someone who doesn't seem to appreciate it. You may feel like you are being pulled in many directions. Don't take it personally and don't hold on to negatives from the past, it will only stress you more. Take time to care for yourself and do things for yourself. Go to a movie or go to the beach. Take a break. It's good for both of you. Laugh a lot.

Listen to your elder; they have so many great things to tell you. Listening is a form of respect and we all want that. Take the time to have a chat with your elder person every day; it will benefit both of you. When your elderly loved one is gone, you will cherish this time.

Financial Considerations

Determine what the cost will be to care for the elderly person. Include the cost of special foods, special transportation, your loss of wages if any, and extra shopping costs.

Discuss with the elderly person where and how the social security and pension checks will be deposited. Decide if the accounts will include your name or if you should have power of attorney.

Consult an elder affairs attorney to find out about living trusts, wills and living wills. It may be in everybody's best interest to put the elder person's home in your name with you giving him or her a living trust. A living trust allows them to live there until they die, and the property reverts back to you. This can save probate time and costs in the future. Medicaid benefits for the future may also apply.