Caring for an aging loved one can be highly challenging, especially if you’re not sure where to turn for help. According to The National Institute on Aging, most family caregivers care for someone over 65. This means you’re likely caring for someone who may face health challenges, memory loss, and mobility issues, making it even more difficult to provide the best care. Fortunately, many different professionals can provide assistance and guidance during this difficult time. Here’s a look at the various types of professionals you should reach out to when caring for a senior loved one.
1. Physicians and Other Healthcare Professionals
The first step in caring for a senior loved one is ensuring they have access to quality medical care. This means finding a physician or healthcare provider specializing in geriatric medicine and any other specialists they may need (such as cardiologists or neurologists). Additionally, it’s essential to make sure your loved one is up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations, screenings, and tests.
Make sure to take detailed notes during your loved one’s medical appointments, including any new medications prescribed and side effects they may experience. This information can be essential for other caregivers and healthcare professionals. Try to have a family member or caregiver accompany your loved one to their appointments whenever possible, as two sets of eyes and ears can be incredibly helpful.
2. Home Care Providers
Home care providers can be incredibly helpful when providing day-to-day care for seniors. In addition to helping with everyday tasks such as bathing and dressing, home care providers can also offer companionship services such as reading aloud or simply engaging in conversation. Home health aides may also be able to help manage medications and coordinate doctor’s appointments.
Some people caring for terminally ill seniors may want to consider hospice care. Hospice care is designed to provide comfort and dignity, rather than medical treatments, during the last stages of life. Their professional hospice nurses and caregivers work to ensure seniors receive the best possible quality of life during their final days. Look for a hospice provider that is certified and experienced in senior care.
3. Mental Health Professionals
Caring for an aging loved one can take an emotional toll on them and their caregivers. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health; if either of you is feeling overwhelmed or struggling with depression or anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional who can provide support and guidance. Geriatric psychiatrists are specially trained in treating older adults with mental illnesses. At the same time, therapists and counselors can offer non-medical support by helping both of you cope with the challenges of aging.
You may also want to look into support groups for caregivers. These are a great way to connect with others who have experienced similar struggles and get advice on how to manage your loved one’s care better. Many of these groups also provide educational resources on aging and caregiving. They can be a great source of support for you and your senior loved one.
4. Financial or Legal Professionals
Finally, you may need to enlist the help of financial or legal professionals when caring for a senior loved one. Working with a financial advisor can help you ensure their money is managed correctly and any assets are transferred properly. You may also need the help of an attorney to create a will or power of attorney if they haven’t already done so. They can also help with guardianship if needed.
Medicare or Medicaid may cover some services, so make sure to research all the benefits available for your loved one. There are also many programs and services available through local or state government agencies, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Ask around to see if any of your family and friends know of any services or programs they may have used in the past.
Caring for a senior loved one isn’t easy—but there are resources available that can make the process much less overwhelming. If you’re caring for an aging parent or grandparent, make sure you reach out to physicians, home care providers, financial experts, and mental health professionals who specialize in geriatric care so that you can get the support and guidance you need during this difficult time. With the right help in place, your senior family member will have access to quality medical care while also enjoying companionship from home care providers who understand their needs better than anyone else.