When taking care of an aging or chronically ill loved one, we need to be concerned with several types of safety: physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual. We often do a stellar job of taking care of their physical needs, but what about their emotional needs?
An elderly person needs to feel safe, remain close to other people and believe that his life continues to be meaningful. Meeting his/her emotional needs can help avoid depression. Signs that your aging loved one needs more support may include difficulty in sleeping, a poor appetite or an inability to concentrate. Emotional care for a senior should include steps designed to deal with vulnerability, loneliness, boredom and isolation.
Using Technology to Help
Here is where the genus™ App can help design these next steps. When the community of care folks (the people you have in your care community on the App) can easily access visitor information and a common schedule; then all can work together seamlessly to provide visits and activities that allow for regular contact with loved ones. Here you can easily log visits and phone calls. It is important for all involved to realize that this is not about who visited Mom the most, but rather how we can all work together, making the most of our busy schedules, to provide Mom with the best emotional support there is: time with loved ones. Think about how important Mom will feel when she sees her community of loved ones working to give her the best, together. I know that my mom has frequently commented to her friends how her children are using “the internet” to schedule visits and activities. She feels honored that such efforts are being made to provide her with best care possible.
Along with making sure our loved ones get regular social contacts, it’s important to note how they are doing physically as well. In the Health platform of the Genus App, you can track how the patient feels physically each day as well as tracking their mood and mobility factor. You can then run medical reports periodically to show the doctor. It could help the doc adjust medications, change medications, or even remove unnecessary meds. With various folks inputting the data, the App allows for tracking of data in a meaningful way to share with family members and medical professionals as necessary. You then can have a complete picture of your loved ones’ physical and emotional health, as they are both tied so closely together.
Some tips to remember:
- Talk with the older person in your family to identify needs. Listen to individual concerns. Don’t assume all elderly are lonely. Encourage the person to express their feelings and be a good listener–ask questions and don’t be judgmental.
- Be aware of fears. Due to medical conditions, some people lose independence as they grow older. Some elderly people may fear not being able to take care of themselves.
- Many older people develop depression. Factors such as illness, death of family members and medications all contribute to depression. Don’t be afraid to ask family member if he or she is feeling depressed. Also look for signs, such as withdrawing from family and friends, mood changes, fatigue and weight loss.
- Understand the need for purpose in an elderly person’s life. With their children grown and retired from their job, an elderly person may feel they are not needed. Many volunteer agencies are geared especially for senior citizens. For example, Senior Corps utilizes senior volunteers in a variety of jobs. In our community, we have an agency called SOC (Society for Older Citizens) that provides all kinds of services for the elderly.
- Recognize the need for professional help. Some emotional problems will need to be evaluated by a doctor or a qualified mental health professional. For example, if signs of depression persist for more than two weeks and interfere will daily activities, professional help may be needed.
- Be aware some emotional problems in the elderly may be caused by side effects from medication and certain medical conditions. A physical may help determine if medical problems are contributing to emotional issues.