Caring for your parents or another elderly relative as they enter their later years can be a challenge. If you can welcome them into your home and care for them yourself, this is an admirable thing to do, but the reality is that it isn’t always the best way to care for someone, nor is it always viable. There are a lot of big questions to answer when planning care for an elderly relative, such as where they will live, what modifications need to be made to their current home, medication, general health care, etc. If your elderly loved one suffers from an environmental illness, too, finding solutions to these questions might seem even harder. Here’s some advice on how you can care for an elderly relative with environmental illness and still make sure they’re comfortable.
Care Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
It might come to a point where your relative is no longer able to live alone anymore but you can’t accommodate them in your home, either. In this case, a lot of people turn to retirement homes or assisted living facilities to ensure that their loved one is well looked after and safe. Senior communities not only provide your relative with care from staff, but also allow them the opportunity to make new friends with the other residents. When researching and visiting these places to find one that best suits your elderly relative's needs, be sure to ask the manager or senior staff members about their cleaning products, mattresses, food preparation, and so on. Make it clear that your relative suffers from environmental illness and be specific as to what sets them off (e.g., chemical sensitivity) to find out if and how accommodations can be made.
Living with You
If you are able and want to have your elderly relative live with you, you will also have to look at your current living space and determine what changes need to be made. Along with the modifications (handrails, shower seats, etc.) that your relative may require in the home, you will need to consider their environmental illness and figure out how your home can be improved to accommodate their needs. For example, if they are sensitive to chemicals, changing your cleaning products to organic ones could be a good idea. Think carefully about any allergies or food intolerances they might have and how you can keep their food separate and safe from the rest of the family’s. You may even need to consider the larger environment outside of your home, such as the pollution in the area in which you live. This could potentially be a big trigger for your relative and, therefore, your home might not be the best choice for them.
There is much to be considered when figuring out care for an elderly relative, but for one who suffers from an environmental illness, there are even more decisions to be made. These types of illnesses vary in their severity and can be caused by a multitude of triggers, which is why careful thought must go into your decisions about the care and living arrangements of your loved one in their later years.
View the very BEST Environmental Illness Videos!
1. Your Health is Governed by Your Environment | Prof. BM Hegde | TEDx Talk
2. Demystifying Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
3. Social Determinants of Health - An Introduction
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