Because of impairments, disability, or disease, elderly people in American society feel that they are often cast off and forgotten, even by the people who love them the most. It isn’t surprising that this is a common sentiment among the elderly, either. The rate of familial visits for the elderly is generally low, more and more families are turning to assisted living and nursing homes because of a lack of time to care for their loved ones, and some elderly persons have spouses and friends that pass away, leaving them without supportive companionship. While no one is necessarily to blame for all of this, it certainly isn’t surprising that the elderly often feel isolated and slightly estranged from their families.
In contrast, at UEW Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care, our own home healthcare professionals have seen the power and influence that the elderly can still have in a family as they adapt to different roles and responsibilities that help them feel wanted and included. This article examines a few things families can do to help their aged relatives continue playing an active role in familial relationships, even when impairments, disabilities, or other limitations may be of some concern.
One of the most inclusive ways families can include their elderly relatives is by ensuring they are able to get them to family gatherings and family functions when feasible. Making sure family gatherings are held regularly and that their elderly family members are invited is also important. If family gatherings haven’t been a focal point in some families in the past, it may be good to consider setting a consistent schedule for planning regular family gatherings if the goal is to be more inclusive of elderly family members. These often take time and some dedication, but committing to regular times throughout the year, month, or week where an elderly family member can do something fun and special with their family members often makes a big difference in their lives.
If an elderly relative is capable, another effective way to help them is by giving them agreed-upon family responsibilities that help them feel like they are contributing to the family. This may include watching grandchildren on occasion, letting them help around the home, or getting involved in their other family members’ lives. It is fair to note that some tasks and responsibilities may not actually be “helpful” for the rest of the family, and others may take more time than they are seemingly worth, but as long as the mutual expectation is set, understood, and agreed upon, including your elderly family members through responsibilities engenders a sense of contribution and self-worth which they are often searching for in their old age.
Frequent, Scheduled Visits throughout the Week
Along with family gatherings and responsibilities, there is another thing that can be weaved into the aspects of daily living that gives the elderly direction and purpose. Consider scheduling regular, planned visits throughout the week. Get the whole family to visit at times or maybe only particular individuals. This is good whether they are in an assisted living residence or nursing home, and it works to visit them either in your own home or at a care facility.
Helping Family Members with Disability
Some of the ideas listed above are simply not feasible for all elderly family members because of limitations or disability. The overarching idea is to keep the elderly engaged in the details of their family members’ lives, however. This means that if there are disabilities that prevent home or other regular visits, you and your family can think of creative ways to reach out and make your elderly loved ones feel like they are cared for and that they are still valued as a member of the family.
Getting Home Healthcare
These are a few of the lessons we have personally learned as healthcare professionals who work with the elderly on a regular basis. If you have a loved one that is experiencing health issues or disease after working with the United State DOE or any of its subsidiaries or subcontractors, call UEW Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care today to get help from our EEOIPCA and RECA sponsored programs.