The disabled senior in your life is special to you. This might be a grandparent, parent, or other loved one. It is not always easy to keep the stress away, especially when this individual is dependent on you for care. Getting older means not being able to take care of yourself like before. This could require help with preparing meals, maybe even help with feeding. For a disabled senior citizen, this will usually require basic hygiene help as well. To make sure that you are providing your loved one with the best care possible, these tips will help you figure out a plan to make both your life and theirs as carefree as possible.
What you need to do to get started is to gather information by using your resources. This includes your personal experiences, the advice of doctors/medical professionals, and any other research you can do online or through support groups. Knowledge is power, especially when you are working hard to care for someone that you love. The more you can understand what they are feeling, the better you will be able to relieve their stress and their challenges.
If you feel that you need additional help, set up an appointment where you can meet with their medical advisors one-on-one. These individuals are going to know your loved one best in terms of what they need to have a fully functional life. Depending on what disabilities they have and how mobile they are, their care will vary.
This is how you are going to determine what must be done and what you will need to change in your own life to better care for your loved one. Starting from the very beginning takes away all of the stressful elements of creating a care plan. Breaking down large tasks into smaller ones will help you to create a practical to-do list.
Programs for Seniors with Disabilities
Many government agencies have programs designed to boost the well-being of seniors and others with disabilities. Following is a list of these programs:
This government website has information and tools to help caregivers and their loved ones stay healthy.
Disabilities en español (Healthfinder.gov)
Spanish-language version of healthfinder.gov, a government website with information and tools to help caregivers and their loved ones stay healthy.
About one in five people in the U.S. has a disability. Some people are born with one. Others have them because of an illness or injury. Learn more from the National Library of Medicine at NIH.
Spanish-language version of resources provided by the National Library of Medicine at NIH.
Get Help: People with Disabilities (Administration for Community Living)
The ACL doesn’t provide services directly, but, funds a wide variety of programs managed by states and localities to meet the needs of the community.
- Discrimination on the Basis of Disability (Office for Civil Rights) Learn about the role of HHS in enforcing non-discrimination requirements in health care and social services programs.
Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Administration for Community Living)
Dedicated to ensure that people with developmental disabilities and their families can fully enjoy and contribute to their communities.
FAQ: What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
FAQ: What agencies advocate for persons with disabilities?
Create a Support Network
- Not only does your loved one need a network of support, but you should also make it a priority to get this same support for yourself. Aside from the people in your life who support you, there is also the option to join support groups for people who are in the same or similar situations. The people in your life might not be able to fully relate to you because they are not in your situation, and that is no fault of their own. When you are around like-minded people who are going through something similar, you will feel less overwhelmed.
If you cannot find a local group to attend in person, there is always the option of joining a virtual one nationally. Depending on what kind of support you need, there are a plethora of options available if you are able to complete a little research on your own. Many people just enjoy being able to have others to vent to about caring for their disabled senior loved one, and this can help tremendously by knowing that you are not alone in this. It takes a lot of pressure off the situation because you are not keeping your feelings hidden inside. How to Build or Find a Support Network?
A support network refers to a group of people – friends, family, and others – that one can rely on for emotional and practical support. The following resources will help guide you:
- How to Develop Natural Supports What does “Natural Supports” really mean? It is all around you
- Building Personal Support Networks - The best way to start building a personal support network is to focus on what you have to contribute to people around you.
- Find a Disability-Related Peer Support Group Near You! - Check out this list below of disability-related support groups across the U.S.
- LGBTQ+ Aging & Abilities Support network (LAASN) - addresses social isolation as well as emotional, behavioral, & health challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer seniors and adults with disabilities.
- Support groups: Make connections, get help - If you're facing a major illness or stressful life change, you don't have to go it alone. A support group can help.
Remain an Advocate
To be a great advocate, you need to prioritize what you are doing. This means that it should feel important to you and that you will make time to educate yourself. By having the most up-to-date information on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act, you are not only helping yourself but helping others who might not be as familiar with these resources. Teach yourself all that you need to know to make the process as seamless as you can.
Another way to be an advocate is by correctly storing and learning your loved one's medical records. Make sure that you stay on top of them and aware of them. If other caregivers come into their life, then you will be able to accurately inform them of the type of care your disabled senior needs and save a lot of the guesswork. This is also going to help bring you the peace of mind that they are being taken care of in the best way possible, even when you cannot care for them yourself. If something is important to you, then you are always going to make time for it.
Focus on Self-Care
During this entire process, you must remember that what you are doing is not easy. While you do not require a medal or any type of recognition, you cannot neglect your own needs to care for your disabled loved one. They are only going to receive great care from you if you also take care of yourself. Make sure that you block some time out that is devoted to self-care and just taking some time to be alone with your thoughts. There are many physical and emotional struggles that you are going to face during this process.
Give yourself some time to be able to digest everything that is happening and to rest your mind and body. If you need help, do not be ashamed to ask for it! If other loved ones or family members cannot help, then you can consider hiring an in-home caregiver to alleviate your stress when you just need some time to take care of yourself. This is not a selfish action to take because you are only human, and you do have your own breaking points. Avoid reaching them by asking for help first.
With all of these tips in mind, you are going to create the healthiest and most practical environment for your disabled senior. You will feel like you are helping them as much as possible while still allowing them to have the freedom that they still have left. This is very important because they will feel like they still have control of their lives and you will have the peace of mind in knowing that you are doing everything you can for them.
Thomas AndersonGeriatric Care Manager
Thomas Anderson has over 15 years of experience providing care and support to elderly individuals. He specializes in helping seniors manage their medical needs and navigate the healthcare system. Thomas keenly understands how to help aging adults stay as independent as possible while ensuring they have access to the best available resources.