Every person is likely to be in a caregiver’s role at some point in life. Regardless of whether you are a parent caring for a child in poor health, a spouse of someone with a chronic condition, or have a senior parent, as a caregiver, you wish to offer the best care to your loved one, enabling him/her to live a comfortable and healthy life.
Your family and friends are the ones you hold close to your heart. Caring for them when they are physically or emotionally unfit, speaks of your selfless love and commitment to the relationship.
Here are the five most common health problems you should be aware of in order to offer the best care to your loved ones when they are in poor health.
According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017, diabetes is the seventh-largest cause of death in the United States as it increases the risk of hypertension, heart attacks, and stroke. Diabetes or high blood glucose levels can adversely affect various body parts, namely the arteries, the eyes, the kidneys, the nerves, the gums, and the digestive organs. It also lowers the immunity levels, making the patient prone to a variety of infections.
Presently, more than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. If your loved one is type 1 or type 2 diabetic, it is crucial for you to help him/her make healthy choices in order to prevent the complications associated with the disease.
Help your loved one cope with the disease by being patient and emotionally supportive. If you eat meals with him/her, avoid preparing or buying fat-rich and high-sugar food items. Include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish in your diet. Encourage him/her to exercise regularly and take the prescribed medications regularly.
Managing blood sugar levels is part of a diabetic patient’s lifestyle. Watch out for signs of extremely high and low levels of blood glucose. Contact your family physician if your loved one complains of blurry vision, extreme fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, twitching, and excessive sweating or urination. Loss of consciousness, seizures, and slurring of speech are a few other symptoms you must watch out for.
2. Obesity and High Cholesterol
According to the American Heart Association, nearly 70 percent of American adults are either obese or overweight. Moreover, one in three American kids aged 2 to 19 years are obese.
Obesity (excess body fat) increases the risk of cardiovascular disorders, stroke, high cholesterol, hypertension, osteoarthritis, infertility, and sleep apnea. If someone you love is battling with excessive weight encourage him/her to live a healthy lifestyle.
Set an achievable weight-loss goal and help them achieve it by offering to partner with them in the endeavor. Make meals or snacks that include lean proteins, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Offer to share a healthy meal with your loved one or invite him/her for a walk in a neighborhood park. You can also join the gym together on the pretext of spending time together.
Offer rewards to celebrate when small weight-loss goals are achieved. For instance, you can treat him/her to a movie, a baseball game, or a spa when he/she has lost a certain amount of weight in a month.
When approaching your loved one, avoid making condescending and judgemental comments. He/she is already aware of his/her size and its effects on health. Be patient and supportive and encourage him/her to stick to his/her diet and exercise routine.
3. Respiratory Disorders
Asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is the major respiratory disorders affecting millions of Americans. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by multiple episodes of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. COPD (emphysema or chronic bronchitis) is the body’s progressive inflammatory response to toxic gases (especially cigarette smoke), causing airflow blockage and breathing-related issues.
Caring for a close family member with the above-mentioned respiratory disorders can be challenging, however, you can help him/her manage the condition by encouraging him/her to eat well, stay active, and quit smoking.
Living with an asthmatic patient can be stressful as you never know when the next episode will strike. Your health care specialist will recommend a few tests that can identify the triggers of an asthma attack, namely dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. Use precautionary measures to keep these triggers under control. You must also educate yourself on what needs to be done when the symptoms arise and the medications that must be administered to manage the episode.
As a COPD caregiver, you must encourage your loved one to attend pulmonary rehabilitation sessions that prescribe exercises, diet, and lifestyle changes to patients. Depending on the severity of the disease, your loved one may have to see the doctor regularly and take multiple medications.
Create a reminder chart to help him/her manage doctor appointments and adhere to the medications. Monitor his/her health and check for symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, excessive mucus, chest pain, swelling in the limbs, and muscle cramps.
One in ten Americans over the age of 65 years has Alzheimer’s dementia. Dementia is a progressive loss of memory, thinking, reasoning, and judgment influenced by a variety of age-related factors. A patient with dementia has trouble performing his/her activities of daily living, severely impacting his/her quality of life.
Seeing your senior loved one battle with dementia can be a heart-wrenching experience. However, educating yourself about the syndrome and maintaining an emphatic and a positive attitude can help you to offer the best care for your elder family member.
Dementia gets worse as time progresses. Consequently, your senior may often show signs of feeling confused, disoriented and lost. During such times, actively empathize with your elders and try your best to foster good moments.
Talk to your healthcare provider about how you can keep your senior engaged at home. Get in touch with professional memory care providers and skilled caregivers who can support you in your endeavor towards offering the best care to your loved one.
Social interaction plays a crucial role in making seniors with dementia feel loved and cared for. Encourage other family members and friends to interact with your senior, enabling him/her to live a fulfilling life.
5. Depression and Anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than 40 million Americans over the age of 18 years are affected by depression and anxiety disorders.
Anxiety is characterized by ‘fight or flight’ response to a situation which in reality is not a danger or threat. The person suffering from anxiety may find it tough to sleep, experience palpitations and excessive sweating, and is in a constant state of worry or panic.
On the other hand, in depression, the patient consistently experiences feelings of grief or loss of pleasure for more than two weeks. He/she may feel irritable and agitated, suffer from low self-esteem, and at times have suicidal thoughts.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, he/she may not be comfortable seeking help or support. Spend time with your loved one and encourage him/her to get adequate sleep, diet, and exercise. When your loved one desires to share his/her feelings, listen to him/her without being judgemental. Encourage him/her to seek support from a psychiatrist or your family doctor.
Gaining knowledge about a disorder and its management is the first step towards offering care to an ailing loved one. The above-mentioned information on the most common health problems will help you attend to the needs of your family and friends when they are under the weather.
About The Author:
Evan Thompson, CEO, and founder of Senior.One has a long-standing interest in finding solutions for seniors. He helps connect senior citizens and their family members with elder care service providers and find the resources they need in one place. He offers information on nursing homes, hospice, financial planning, adult care, lifestyle and assisted living facilities Albuquerque Nm. He provides information on housing, medical professionals, financial planning services, and lifestyle options.