Having an elderly family member who lives alone can be difficult to deal with. You may worry about their wellbeing and safety, especially if you are unable to stay in contact or see them regularly due to distance or responsibilities. Many elderly people refuse the assistance of outsiders or are placed into care because they value their freedoms and autonomy. As their loved one, it is your duty to abide by their wishes but also acts in a way that is helpful for them. You want to ensure they feel empowered and independent, but you should also make the effort to help out wherever necessary.
Ask Them What They Want
Pay close attention to their wishes. You don’t want to make them feel incapable or unable to carry out basic duties or their daily activities. Speak to them openly and honestly and let them know that because you love and care about them, and you want to be able to offer them help where they need it. Giving them the choice of the help you can provide them is empowering. Be careful though not to patronize your elderly and make them feel like you know what is best for them. Even if your intentions are pure, it can make them feel invalidated and small and could lead to them refusing your help. Instead, offer a helping hand that is compassionate and understanding.
Helping out with your elderly’s meals and even meal preparation can be a huge relief. If they like a certain dish, you can make it for them in large amounts and freeze it in their home so they have access to it whenever they need it. They might struggle with certain elements like chopping or opening cans, so doing the meal preparation for seniors can provide them with the assistance they need. Making meals easier for them to make and enjoy delicious and nutritious meals is good for their mental and physical health.
You can introduce them to the world of online deliveries. If they don’t have much contact with the internet, you can show your elder family member how they can use it to make purchases like clothes, miscellaneous items, and especially, their groceries. This can help empower them to make their own choices of food and grocery items without needing to strain themselves going to the store or have someone else do their shopping.
It is easy enough to set up online food shopping so that they can re-order the same items. This will make it easier especially if you aren’t around to help. Giving them a level of control over this aspect of their lives gives them a sense of independence and autonomy.
Assist them with keeping on top of their health. If they need medication, ensure there is a system in the process where you or someone else is able to pick up their medicine on time. Some pharmacies offer a delivery service so see if this is an option. Encourage them to look after their health. If they are stubborn about it, you can plan days out that involve walking or being out in nature. This can make all the difference to their health and wellbeing and encourages a greater sense of positivity.
Even if your family member is fiercely independent and strong, they can easily fall into feelings of loneliness or sadness. It can be difficult to live alone, even elderly couples can experience a feeling of loneliness. One of the best things you could do is provide them with emotional support. Emotional health is key to supporting mental and physical health. A person with a positive mindset is more likely to make good lifestyle choices.
Prepare your elderly in the case of emergencies. Ensure there are plans in place if something were to happen. Place emergency numbers and contact information in a clear and easily accessible area. Ensure you and other family members are aware of the medication they take and any other health information that could be vital to know if something were to happen.
You could also arrange with a neighbor or someone who lives close by to check up on your elderly loved ones if you are worried or you haven’t been able to get a hold of them. It could also be helpful if a neighbor, yourself, or other family members had a key so that they can gain access if necessary.
Use these tips to help support and look after your elderly family members who live alone. They will appreciate the love and care you show them, and you can protect their independence and strength by offering help where they need it.