We all worry about our elderly relatives, maybe even more than they worry about themselves. This worry is entirely logical though when you see the statistics and look more closely at the risks older people have.
People over 40 are at significantly higher risk of heart disease and other illnesses than those under 40. Once you get to 60 these figures go up dramatically and there are a range of conditions that become more common.
Health risks aren’t the only concern for those with elderly relatives. Unfortunately, as we all get older we are no longer able to control our bodies in the same way. Weaker muscles, worse eyesight and other medical conditions can make even cooking and cleaning a risk and we may not even realize it.
Unfortunately for a lot of people they will need to make the decisions about their elderly relative’s care when the time comes. This can be a difficult decision for anyone but ultimately it comes down to keeping the elderly safe.
Are the elderly safe on their own?
We’ve looked at why older people have greater health risks but there are a number of factors that can make even our own homes quite dangerous to the elderly. Mobility issues can be significant after a certain age. This means even going up and down stairs, or using the shower can be a hazard. A small trip or fall can be dangerous for the elderly, and completing these daily tasks can present a real risk.
A lot of old people live alone, often because their closest family, partners and friends have passed away. This is really sad but even in cases where there are relatives close by, they generally aren’t there all the time. This means that if something does go wrong or there is an accident it could be hours or days before help comes.
There is a heightened risk of fires in the homes of the elderly. As they cook or use other electrical equipment there is a greater risk that things may be dropped or devices could be left on. This presents not only a risk to an individual but to those in nearby houses. In the event of a fire it could also be difficult for an elderly person to get themselves out of the building in time.
Sadly, there are also those who would prey on the elderly. Financial and even physical crime against older people has gone up in the past decade as opportunists will take advantage of isolated individuals who are vulnerable.
These are all situations which are unlikely but need to be thought about beforehand. As we get older the home can become a much less safe place and can present significant risks to our health and security. When we get to a certain age this can mean looking for alternative care arrangements with greater support.
What care do older people need?
This is a very broad question of course, but one worth considering when it comes to looking after relatives or friends. Care itself is a broad concept but it starts with meeting the physical needs.
A lot of elderly people will struggle with day to day tasks like rising from bed and getting out of a chair. The weakening of muscles prohibits movement and can mean that some older people are unable to support themselves. This can mean showering and dressing isn’t easy and they may need help. It also may mean that for some elderly people they will need somebody to help provide them with essentials on a daily basis because they can no longer do this themselves.
Older people also need additional care to deal with mental and emotional needs. A high percentage of older people have suffered from loneliness because they don’t have any family or friends around. Even those with connections will often only be able to see them a few times a week. The mind requires stimulation and activity in order to stop it slowing down or aging and all too often this isn’t possible with the older generation, however it’s a need that must be met.
To generalize older people too much would not give much insight into what care is needed. Every individual is different and as we age our needs will change. When deciding what care your loved ones need it’s important to engage with them and find out exactly what they want if possible. From there you can look at what care options are available.
Care Homes for the Elderly
Care homes are run by trained professionals who can offer specialized support to cater to most needs. These facilities are an alternative when the quality of care needed can no longer be supplied at home.
Residential aged care homes offer a variety of services to help care and support the elderly. This goes beyond looking after the needs of the resident but can also help them find more energy by offering activities and giving them a community to engage with.
Thinking about care options for our elderly relatives isn’t always easy but it’s important decisions that have to be made. Everyone’s circumstances are different but it all comes down to making sure the older generation are cared for in the best and most appropriate way.