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Looking after an elderly relative is a surprisingly difficult task. As they are adults, they are not used to being looked after but, given their circumstances, it is clear that they need you to be around to help them.
Moving your relative into your own home might just be a step in the direction of a care home (perhaps you are waiting for a space) or it might be an indefinite move while they are recovering from an illness. Either way, you will need to think about how your home can suit them and keep them safe and happy.
Though of course your elderly relative is not a child and shouldn’t be treated as one, they can be susceptible to similar dangers within the house. Some elderly people sleepwalk and could do themselves an injury, but putting down a pressure pad could alert you when they get out of bed.
Similarly, adults who are suffering with dementia may be unaware of certain dangers. Tablets can be a bit of a nightmare as they may remember to take their medication but then take too many. Medication carts for nursing homes could be an option to organize lots of pills, but simply hiding medicines in a cupboard that is out of reach should suffice.
Consider the Temperature
Older people tend to have poorer circulation than younger folk and, as they spend significantly more time sitting and being still, they are likely to get colder sooner. No wonder nursing homes are always boiling!
Turn up the heating in your house to around 21*c so that your relative is comfortable and make sure that they are properly dressed in multiple layers. A vest, shirt, jumper and a blanket over their knees will do the trick, but you should also monitor them and help them remove layers if they are getting red with heat.
Look After Yourself Too
Having an elderly relative living with you can be quite stressful, especially if you aren’t sure how long they will be staying. As difficult as it might be, you should take some time for yourself to destress. You could ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye out for an hour while you go out, or find some time in the evening after they have gone to bed.
Try to get all your chores and jobs out of the way and then take an evening to practise some meditation and do some stretches to alleviate any tension in your muscles. This will help you to clear your mind and be fresh for tomorrow. Though your mind is probably racing, give yourself a chance to listen and deal with each stress and don’t feel guilty about wishing for an easier life – we all wish that!
Over time, you will settle into a routine and hopefully things will get a bit easier. However, if it doesn’t, do look into a nursing or care home that will be nearby for you to visit, but will take the strain off you. The most important thing is that your relative is safe and cared for, whether that is at home or away.