The great news about being a caregiver for your elderly parent is that people are living longer and longer, and most likely, you will have many years of time with your parent, not only giving care but creating wonderful memories together. With more people living longer, though, the chances of your parent developing one or more chronic conditions is likely. As your parent ages, there are some fairly common conditions and diseases that will either strike him or the people he knows. Having an awareness of these conditions will help you navigate the next steps needed if your parent starts displaying symptoms. Most conditions can be managed best when caught and treated early in the onset.
- Arthritis. Arthritis is one of the most common ailments seniors over the age of 65 deal with. For some, it can lead to daily pain which affects their quality of life. Your parent may find he needs to make adjustments to the way he performs tasks, or he may need assistive devices for some tasks. Having a good home care provider who can help with tasks that he can no longer do will help ensure his quality of life is maintained.
- Heart Disease. Heart disease affects about 1/3 of adults over the age of 65, usually due to other risk factors in their lives such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. To help your parent either manage his heart disease or prevent the onset of it, standard practices of eating well, exercising regularly, and getting a good night’s rest will all benefit him. This is another area a home care professional can provide support by taking your parent out for daily walks or helping him prepare healthy meals.
- Cancer. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the elderly. Knowing your family history, your parent’s risk factors, and the early symptoms of cancer can help you get your parent diagnosed early in his disease if he gets it. An early diagnosis of cancer is much more likely to have positive results from treatment.
- Diabetes. Diabetes can contribute to many other health complications so preventing it completely or catching it early on will help ensure your parent is not extremely negatively impacted by a diabetes diagnosis. Many of the prevention steps for other diseases such as heart disease will also help your parent avoid getting diabetes. Eating a healthy diet, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, and keeping a healthy weight will all help prevent the onset of diabetes.
- Alzheimer’s. Often the most feared disease for seniors, this condition affects a little over 10 percent of those older than 65. While not as prevalent as many other conditions or diseases, its side effects are not curable and can take away a person’s independence and ability to enjoy a high quality of life.
As you care for your parent, there’s no guarantee of what you’ll have to battle together. Having you as a caregiver should provide your parent with the knowledge that whatever he may have to go through, he won’t go through it alone.