Chronic Disease and Your Aging Parent

Elder Care in Richmond Hill

Chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, dementia, and liver and cardiovascular disease are more common than not among the elderly. It is estimated that 80 percent of older adults have at Elder-Care-in-Richmond-Hillleast one chronic disease.

When your parent learns they are suffering from a chronic illness, their emotions may swing from relief that they know what is wrong to fear that the disease is “incurable.” They’ve seen friends with the same disease end up spending their days in bed with little activity or company. They wonder about the possible loss of independence and concerned about what the future brings.

The most important thing you can offer as a family caregiver is hope. The truth is, most chronic conditions can be managed, and how they are managed can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life.

Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis among the elderly. Painful joints are due to the tissue between the joints, cartilage, wearing out and, in some cases, producing bone against bone. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, and foods with omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and sardines, are important additions to their diet both for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Get a hot pack for your loved one or, better yet, a Jacuzzi tub. Warm to hot temperatures are beneficial for pain control. Exercise is vital. A low-impact exercise such as water-aerobics is a good choice.

Diabetes

The possible complications of diabetes—loss of vision, heart disease and nerve damage–can cause dismay and fear among the most stoic. The most important aspect of managing this disease is keeping the blood sugar level in check. Diet, exercise and medication are the key.

Dementia

While dementia is a progressive disease, there are things you can do as a family caregiver that can make both of your lives easier. Remember that this is a brain disease and your parent is not responsible for the outbursts, irritation, mental wanderings or repetitive statements.  Listen and respond with your heart. Be gentle and patient. They may be speaking in what could be considered a foreign language. It will take time to translate. Exercise can direct attention and minimize restlessness. Introducing more fruits and vegetables into their diet and minimizing sugar, caffeine and junk food can help stabilize moods. Routine is good.

Cardiovascular and Lung Disease

There are many diseases that fall under these categories and management varies greatly. Diet and exercise always play a part. There are numerous books written on each of these chronic conditions and suggestions for management. Your local library is an excellent source for resources.

Respite

It’s extremely important to take a break when caring for any family member, but especially one with a chronic disease. A senior care provider can provide the respite you need so you can recharge your batteries and lead a balanced life. Taking time to exercise and eat a healthy diet now will help ensure your health as you age.

If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Richmond Hill, contact the caring professionals at Staff Relief Health Care 24/7 at 905.709.1767.

 

Resources:  National Council on Aging; Chronic disease Management; www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/chronic-disease/

About Susan Di Michele

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