Taking care of the elderly at home is crucial and not an easy task. Apart from ensuring they take their medication on time, it is also important to provide a safe space for them to live.
Share the responsibilities
Sharing how to properly care for an elder at home, Homage Care Specialist Nisha Andrea Raj encouraged caregivers to enrol themselves for caregiving classes.
“Educating yourself provides you with the ability to help your elder ones to get the best support and assistance. You are required to understand how much care is needed for a loved one,” Nisha added. Furthermore, elders require the attention and daily needs to ensure a continued balanced healthy living.
As a start, caregivers can create a list of daily, weekly and monthly tasks to understand how much help is needed during the day, night and weekends. “You will realise how much care is needed at which point of the day. This also helps you remember what task needs to be carried out when done regularly,” said Nisha.
With over 10 years of experience, Nisha emphasised that it is important to involve elders in their care decisions as much as possible.
“This is to avoid them from feeling that others are making all the decisions for them which they might feel reluctant in receiving help.” She also said that including them in all the conversation and decision-making can help them feel more independent and in control.
Next on the essential list is to make sure they live in a condition that does not pose any threat to them.
Nisha advises caregivers to install safety features and facilities at home. She also advises caregivers to seek advice from doctors or physiotherapists about the kind of modifications that can benefit the elders staying at home.
For example, a grab bar in the bathroom or other living areas is one of the safety features that can be installed at home to assist the elderly.
Other than that, replacing floor mats to non-slip mats on stairs, showers, or kitchen can help prevent individuals from falling. Another recommendation is to improve lighting in dimly lit areas at home for better visibility.
Helping elders to stay active is also essential. According to Nisha, online studies recommend older adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
“You need to encourage them to organise levels of physical activity into their daily lives. Talk to the doctor or physiotherapist about the types of physical activities that can be carried out safely.”
As for those who are unable to exercise independently, “There are a set of motion exercises that can help elders maintain their joint mobility.” Nisha said these exercises are important and can help limber up their joints to avoid muscle stiffness. “You can also opt for enjoyable activities that can be done together, such as going for a walk in the park or working in the garden.”
While taking care of the elders can be tiring physically, mentally and emotionally, Nisha advises caregivers to care for themselves as much as they do for their loved ones. Experiencing caregiver burnout becomes an obstacle when one is trying to do more than one could.
Hence, Nisha advises caregivers to create a list and narrow down the tasks that require help from others. “Share the caregiving responsibility by asking your siblings or close relatives so you can take a break or rest in between.”
If the task is too much, Nisha encourages caregivers to not hesitate to reach out for professional help.
Nisha is a registered staff nurse with experience in stroke care for over 10 years in both Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
Now back in Malaysia, she is the resident care specialist with Homage, a home care platform matching nurses and caregivers providing care for seniors in their own home.
Her role is to optimise care by working together with family members, the person Homage delivers care to and to assist with Homage Care Pros. She also helps develop personalised care plans after an In-Person Care Assessment.
She enjoys her nursing career and loves what she does daily. Nisha can fluently converse in English, Malay, Tamil, Chinese and Arabic.