​As Singapore’s population ages, the likelihood of each one of us having to taking on some or all of the responsibility of caring for and nursing an elderly relative increases. Unless your elderly relative has condition which requires hospitalization or specialised treatment, home care is often the most comfortable and comforting form of nursing which an elderly patient can receive.

If you are currently faced with the possibility of having to care for an aging parent or relative at home, here are some of the considerations which you might want to plan for.

Develop a Care Plan

In order to assess the full extent of the preparations which caring for your relative will require, you should start by creating a care plan.

A care plan is a document which is a record of needs, actions and responsibilities, a way to manage risk and outline contingency plans so that patients, family members, caregivers and other health professionals know what to do on a daily basis and also in the event of a crisis.

A good care plan should be created in consultation with your elderly patient, his or her doctor and your family members.

Understand and document their medical needs

Start by understanding the various medical conditions your elderly family member has. Older patients often face multiple chronic conditions and you will need to understand each of them and how they are likely to progress over time.

Speak with your family doctor and make a list of medications which need to be taken on a daily basis, how they should be administered and take note of when and how often your relative will need to visit the doctor or the hospital for regular tests or procedures.

Nutritional and physical needs

Note down any special dietary restrictions and also physical care requirements.

  • Will your patient need assistance to go to the washroom?
  • Will simple functions like bathing, toileting, grooming, eating and mobility require assistance?
  • If they do, is your home equipped to be wheelchair friendly and do you have the necessary modifications needed to make these tasks easier?
  • Are you able to assist your relative with these needs or are will you be able to rely on home help?

Emotional and psychological support

If your relative has dementia or related mental or emotional conditions, are you equipped to help them? Patients with conditions like these may prefer a stable and set routine and environment. You may also need to ensure that they receive more specialized care for their conditions.

Quality of life and relationships

Growing older and losing some of their independence often makes older people feel insecure, vulnerable and depressed. Try to understand what you can do to continue to give them the ability to retain relationships and to grow their interests. Are there classes they can still attend? Would arranging a regular get together to play mah-jong or drink coffee with friends be something they would look forward to? Maybe a gentle walk each day in the gardens or an outdoor activity would help?

Figure out how you can include them in regular family activities. The more positive your elderly relative’s outlook on life can be, the easier it will be to care for them and the higher their chances of ageing successfully in place will be.

Read on for more practical​​​​ tips to incorporate into the Care Plan for an elderly.

Ref. O17