Many homes still have one or two elderly relatives living with the family. Since ‘Quality’ is the essence of this website, ‘quality care’ to aged family members is a concern which needs to be addressed.
If we want our old parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles , who happen to live at home, to be reasonably healthy and happy, just giving them a roof over their heads, some food on the table and clothes, are not enough for a ‘quality’ life. We have to go beyond just the basics. It is not as if we are fulfilling our responsibility by just ensuring the existence of an old family member, taking them for granted for the most part and setting them aside from full involvement as a family member, most of the time. Yet, sadly, that is the fate of most of the senior citizens who are dependant on their families and live with them. It is also not unusual to find them being abused both verbally and physically and being generally subjected to ill treatment and unkindness.
This is not what our old relatives deserve from us. They too are entitled to share in the life of ‘Quality’ which the other family members wish to enjoy. So what are some of the things that we need to keep in mind while taking care of the elderly (who are not able to take good care of themselves)? We need to watch their health – physical and mental, nutrition, hygiene and general wellbeing. We must not let them feel that because they are old they are no longer of any consequence.
Regular and proper nutrition is very important to maintain the health of an old person. This has to be supervised by other family members because quite often old persons are not able to feed themselves and the resulting lack of nutrition can lead to rapid deterioration in their health. Similarly because of their failing health, the old are not able to take care of personal hygiene and cleanliness and require the support and care of other family members.
Loneliness and isolation and the depression which results from it, is something which several old persons face even while living with their families. It is important to involve the elderly in family conversations, activities and decisions and not neglect them and treat them like a burdensome responsibility or an embarrasment. Treating an aged family member with love and affection, taking them on outings and giving them something to look forward to does wonders to improve the quality of their life and they rarely expect more.
Regular health check ups for the elderly are important and if they are unable to seek medical assistance by themselves, it is the family’s responsibility to ensure that their health is not neglected and the required medication is regularly administered.
Granted that old persons can often be difficult, non- cooperative and try our patience, but children too are just that and we treat them with love and affection, as we should. The old are in many ways, like children – old age is referred to as a ‘second childhood’. So as with children, our old relatives also need to be handled firmly but patiently and never with roughness and unkindness, remembering that we too will be ‘old’ and dependant one day.