You’re not just a family member, you’re a family caregiver. So you play a big role in keeping your loved one healthy. It may not always be easy, and there may be times when you feel like you’re losing the battle, but remain steadfast in your efforts.
You can start by making sure your loved one schedules and keeps all necessary medical appointments. It’s not a bad idea to go along with them to be a second set of ears, to keep tabs on their treatment and any new or changing conditions, and to be an advocate for them. Have a list of questions prepared for the doctor so nothing is overlooked and be sure to tell them about any new things or changes you’ve noticed in your loved one.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says many seniors take more than three medications a day. That can be confusing. Some seniors may take more of one medication than they should, while others may accidentally forget and skip a dose. Simplify the process by getting a weekly pillbox and help set it up for them. While you can’t actually give them their medication, you can remind them. If you’re not there, set an alarm or timer letting them know when it’s time to take their medication. If the prescription regimen is too complicated for your loved one, ask the doctor if it can be made easier somehow by using different drugs, or different dosages.
Encourage your loved one to stay active. Doing some form of exercise on a regular basis can improve their health, keep them fit, improve their strength, their sleep, their mood and lower their risk of falls. If your loved one needs motivation, you can offer to participate with them, they can exercise with a friend, or work out with several at a time at a local senior center or gym. If exercise per se doesn’t appeal to your family member, suggest they take walks around the neighborhood or get involved in a physical activity like gardening.
Pay attention to their mental health by watching for signs of depression or anxiety. If you do notice anything out of the ordinary, it’s best to talk to their doctor about it or see about getting help from a therapist or counselor.
Encourage your loved one to eat healthy, nutritious meals diet. When you shop, select nutritious foods that are easy to prepare. You or other family members can prepare many meals in advance, then put them in containers that are clearly marked with what the meal is and the date it was prepared. All your loved one has to do is heat it up in a microwave.
Get your loved one a medical alert bracelet or pendant that includes his name and key medical information in case of an emergency.
Do a safety check of their home and correct any problems you find, including replacing burned out light bulbs and removing tripping hazards.