It’s an almost inevitable fact of aging; at some point Mom or Dad will fall or suffer some illness or injury. Illness or injury isn’t something that happens to the elderly as any of us at any time could be in a position of relying on friends or family to help us through recovery.
If you find yourself or a family member in a situation where they may have been hospitalized or in a rehabilitation facility but are now being released to home care, you need to know what the road ahead will be like and how you can help.
Here are some suggestions on how to help your loved one along the road to recovery:
- Understand what the goals for recovery are. Spend time with the doctors and physical therapists at the hospital so all family members have a clear understanding of what is expected. The goal could be as simple as “walk 50 steps today” or “take a shower every other day.” As long as the goals are clear and understood by everyone, you can help your loved one meet them.
- Be prepared for resistance and perhaps even anger. Recovery can be frustrating and there could be setbacks. Today could be an awful day but tomorrow may be better. Anyone who has suffered an illness or injury just wants to be better “right now,” and the idea that it may take time is frustrating for many. Expect that and find ways to deal with the situation. As a caregiver you will likely bear the brunt of the anger and frustration but you need to find a way to cope even if it means asking for help and stepping away for a day.
- Try to add some fun into the exercises. Turn on the radio and work out or walk to the beat of the music. Turn on the television to a favorite show and help your loved one work out to their favorite show, it can make the time go more quickly than working in a silent vacuum.
- Break up the rehabilitation efforts into smaller chunks. Rather than feeling your loved one needs to exercise an hour at a time, break it up into 15 minute increments. Consistent movement may be better than one burst at a time and then no movement for the rest of the day.
- Try to take the pressure off. Remind your loved one that they don’t have to push too hard, recover will happen in its time and slow and steady will win the race.
- Celebrate accomplishments. Take time to mark milestones and celebrate them. Almost everyone is motivated by cheers and treats so offer that to your relative and mark those accomplishments with rewards of their choosing!
- For those times when you can’t be at the house to help your relatives, regardless of their age, a home medical alert device can be a literal lifesaver. You may only need the equipment for a few months or a year during recovery and it’s possible to get the equipment without a contract for use during the times of recovery. Having access to a personal medical device during a health crisis brings peace of mind to all involved for those times when you cannot be in the home.
Keeping yourself, and your aging family member active and motivated will go a long way in helping them lead a healthier life well into their Golden Years!
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