A mother and her daughter, who is providing long term care for her loved one as she continues to live at home.

Long Term Care: Providing Home Care for a Loved One Over Time

Aging brings on a whole new set of experiences, joys, and challenges. Many seniors enjoy seeing their children have children of their own. Seniors often have more time for hobbies they enjoy, including spending time with friends and loved ones. However, aging does bring about hardships for many seniors, especially in regards to their health. This difficulty is faced by family caregivers as well.

Providing home care for an aging parent over the long-term can be a challenge. Your parent may not be terminally ill or near the end of their life, but rather they are in a slow decline of health. Their care needs become increasingly advanced and they may not be as physically or mentally strong as they once were.

While caring for a senior loved one with an illness that causes rapid decline is certainly difficult, this situation is different from caring for a loved one who is slowly declining. Caregivers often struggle watching their parent or other loved one lose their independence, personalities, and abilities. For seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, dementia, or Parkinson’s, this type of slow deterioration can be heartbreaking.

Family Caregiver Challenges

For seniors who have been very independent, proud, or active throughout their lives, the slow deterioration of their health can be hard to accept. Many seniors are resistant to accept or ask for help, even when they begin to notice changes in their health. Although it is challenging, it is the responsibility of family caregivers to make sure seniors get the assistance and professional care they need.

When senior loved ones resist or refuse help, you may be tempted to give in to their demands. This can be detrimental to your loved one’s health, especially if they live alone. Don’t wait until an accident, like a fall, or a medical event like a stroke, to start the discussion about home care services. You may want to respect their wishes and independence, but in the end, finding a realistic senior care solution is best for you both.

Benefits of Home Care Services

As your senior loved one age, it is likely that their care needs will become more advanced. Finding a professional in-home caregiver while your loved one is still well enough will help them form a trusting relationship with their caregiver. A major benefit of home care services is that seniors get to remain in the familiar surroundings of their home. Even if your loved one moves into your family home, they still have the benefits of maintaining independence, seeing friends and family as often as they would like, stick to a routine. Avoiding major changes is the best thing for a senior’s overall health and happiness.

A professional home caregiver allows families to spend quality time with one another while Mom or Dad receives the assistance they need. This can help helpful for adult children who have careers and families of their own. Help from an outside caregiver encourages family caregivers to find balance and reduce stress.

Aging is unavoidable and something we will all face. All end of life scenarios involve this gradual decline but planning for the future, working together to make decisions, and knowing when to go for help can make the aging process more manageable and even enjoyable for seniors and their families.

Elderly woman from Carmel, IN painting a picture .

Five Ways to Make Your Brain More Resilient to the Early Signs of Dementia

Dementia is a slowly progressing disease, and it can be distressing to witness a loved one experience the different stages of dementia. During the onset of this disease, it can actually be difficult to separate natural memory loss due to aging and early signs of dementia. However, just as we can resist the physical signs of aging through taking vitamins and exercising, there are measures we can take to keep our brains strong and resist the early stages of dementia.

Five Ways to Keep your Brain Resilient

  • Learn a New Language: Studies show that bilingual brains are actually more resistant to dementia – and can delay symptoms of dementia in a person by an average of 5 years while functioning with a greater level of brain dysfunction. The theory behind this phenomenon is that learning multiple languages prompts the human brain to grow new brain cells.
  • Maintain your Social Life: As long as our brains remain active, they will continue growing new cells even as they age. One of the best ways to keep our brains active is through social interaction. Remaining social throughout your life helps you learn new things, exchange information, and reduce anxiety and depression – all of which keeps your brain active and strong.
  • Learn New Skills: When our brains are challenged, they grow new cells to accumulate the new knowledge and changes the way connections are made to keep it active. Every new challenge helps – from small challenges like doing a task with your non-dominant hand to big challenges like learning a new hobby.
  • Exercise & Eat Healthy: Maintaining your overall health through exercise and nutrition will help your brain be more resilient to the early signs of dementia. Your brain will continue to grow new cells if you keep your body healthy through eating nutritious foods, remaining physically active, and getting enough sleep, along with staying mentally healthy through social activities.
  • Be Curious: Asking questions, learning new things and finding new activities to do will keep your brain constantly taking in new information, which will help it grow new brain cells and make new connections. Being curious will help your brain resist the early signs of dementia, so be on the lookout for new things to do in your community. Some ideas are learning to play an instrument, volunteering, joining a book club, and taking a class.

All of these things and more will promote brain health throughout your life but are especially important in the senior years to fight dementia.