Are you or anyone you know thinking about caring for someone?
Or maybe you already are a carer and are looking for tips and advice on how to properly excel in your caregiving role. Either way, this blog will guide you on how to become your best caring self and in turn: the best you there is!
The list of tips on how to care for the elderly could travel through time and back and still be continuous but we have managed to nail down the ten most important and essential tips that will help you become the closest thing to a perfect carer there is. They go as following:
- Visit often. It sounds like the simplest thing to do and yet it has the most impactful effect. The elderly appreciate socialisation much more than many of us realise and even a quick and short visit could be the most eventful time of their day. Just being present with them and providing them with companionship makes a massive difference and strengthens your relationship further from just a carer and a customer. Listening to them and letting them know they are heard is so important.
- Manage their medication correctly. This tip is crucial in terms of caring for the elderly. For their safety and your piece of mind, it is catastrophically the number one priority of yours as a carer to know exactly what medication they take, if any, and what their dosage is for all their medication. This can be the very factor that keeps them alive and well. If an elderly individual has multiple prescriptions, you need to know what time of day they require each medication as their carer. A good way to organise this is through a dosette box. You can ask their pharmacist for this if not already provided.
- Feed them well and correctly. As a carer, you need to make sure you are feeding your client nutritional food and drink to avoid malnutrition and dehydration. Your client may have an illness that causes malnutrition such as cancer and it is important to fuel them with high protein foods and plenty of fluids to give them energy and avoid them becoming weaker. Making mealtimes enjoyable for them is important too and make a note to check if they have any food allergies. You could even ask them what they would like for all their meals and create a weekly meal plan every week. This will give them a sense of independence and freedom as they are choosing their own meals.
- Keep them clean whilst maintaining their dignity. Maintaining their cleanliness and hygiene will make your client happier and is important in delivering an exceptional standard of care. Make sure you are washing their hands after going to the toilet, washing their genitals and bottom every day, brushing their teeth twice a day, washing their face every day and giving them a shower at least twice a week. Whilst you do all these activities, it is pivotal that you always maintain their dignity. You could even use a nice shampoo they like or play music they enjoy. To go the extra mile, you could explain the process to them as you go along if they are confused. Safety wise, ensure there are no potential slip hazards and that the water is the right temperature.
- Communicate effectively and accordingly to your client’s needs. Many of the elderly have different ways of communicating and can be affected by speech problems or hearing difficulties, for example. You need to be able to adapt to their way of communicating so that you can care for them properly. You would have to find out how they communicate from a doctor or loved one and adjust or train yourself to learn the way in which they communicate.
- Handle and move your client correctly. Knowing how to correctly handle, lift and move a client who needs assistance can be a tricky skill to learn. It boils down to having patience and learning the right techniques through training. Learning these skills can prevent both you and your client from a serious injury. It is necessary to access and evaluate your surroundings before moving a client and carry out a risk assessment. This evaluation could prevent you from said serious injury. If needed, you can even request specific equipment to help you move your client and you can get training in safe handling.
- Learn how to deal with challenging behaviours. Challenging behaviours within elderly care are more common than people know, and they can become the biggest tasks for carers. The following can fall under challenging behaviours: aggression, self-harm, destructiveness and disruptiveness. As a carer, you should try to look out for the reasons why the person you are caring for is acting this way and if you notice the signs earlier on, you may be able to prevent further outbursts. If you find it difficult to cope with the mentioned behaviours, you could even try speaking to a specialist.
- Keep them active. A lot of people would not even consider this but just because they are older does not mean they necessarily hate and are incapable of exercising. In fact, keeping the elderly active can significantly improve their mental health along with their physical health. It is important to keep them involved in activities where possible with their family and friends and prevent them from being isolated and alone. Even if they have no close family or friends, there are many resources you can find online and in your local community that offer day groups and outdoor activities for the elderly.
- Take care of their finances if needed. If your elderly client is unable to take care of their own finances, you may need to discuss this with them. Most old people do not like to talk about their finances, but you need to encourage them to do so for both of your piece of minds. If they have a budget that needs adhering to, make sure you are aware of this and fill out any important documents for them that they need doing. This will save any stress in the future for your client.
- Take care of yourself. Last but certainly not least, make sure you take care of yourself too. A half-filled tank cannot run a car for long. In order for you to deliver the best care for your elderly client or relative, you need to make sure you are looking after yourself first. The best you is the best carer you.
With these ten tips, you should be on your way to becoming the best carer possible. Do not forget to have patience, be loving and smile.