Caring for the elderly requires special skills.

In the days when the nuclear and extended family was the American way of life, the oldest members of the family were cared for by family members when they became unable to care for themselves. Today, families may be spread out all over the country. Careers may demand a move to a city thousands of miles away to make a better life for the children. There are many reasons for the virtual demise of the extended family. Grandma may still be living in the home she’s had for 40 years by the time she reaches old age and its accompanying infirmities, with no nearby family members to help. Even when there is a family member close by, that person may feel ill equipped to deal with caring for the elderly person.

The modern alternatives to caring for the elderly are providing in-home caregivers or employing the services of retirement and nursing homes. The employees of such agencies are trained to give the specialized care that elderly people need. This involves not only familiarity with physical needs, but also sensitivity to emotional needs as well.

It can well be argued that the people best able to care for the elderly are those who are family members. If this is possible, the elderly family member often does better, simply because they feel most secure, knowing someone of their own family knows them best. If you are able, don’t assume you can’t succeed. The skills required come mainly from the heart.

Caregivers and employees of nursing homes can, nonetheless, earn the trust and provide a happy, healthy environment. The key ingredient in caring for the elderly is compassion and patience.

Elderly people who are afflicted with painful conditions, frailty and the frustration of being unable to take proper care of themselves can be justifiably grumpy and seemingly difficult personalities. Furthermore, decades of a certain routine and way of doing things can prove irksome to a caregiver. A caregiver who is sensitive to the emotional plight many seniors face is able to overlook this apparent fussiness and ill tempers. Successful caregivers are able to attune their mindset to the difficulties of the elderly.

Caring for the elderly requires that the caregiver indulges the odd habit, such as requiring a cover be placed on their bedside water in just a certain way, or pillows that must be fluffed and adjusted several times before retiring for the night. This caregiver understands that the bedside water may be a comforting ritual and that the pillow adjustments are necessary for a comfortable rest.

Whether you’re a family member or a professional, remember these key factors in providing the best care for the elderly. You’ll be surprised how rewarding this true caring can be.