When the family cannot take care of them, they look for nursing homes or seek a specialized person who can supply proper care, such as Erika Lizeth Cervantes González, who works as a private elderly nurse in homes in Veracruz.
“I started taking elderly care courses in the Veracruz DIF many years ago,” she said. “Above all, I learned how to physically handle them. Sometimes, it is not about brute force, but how to maneuver them to help them get up or lie down.”
She explains that special care is often required.
“We have to learn how to talk to them, their ailments and allergies, their emergency contacts. There are many situations to consider and new knowledge to learn,” she said.
What criteria should be considered when choosing the person who will take care of elderly relatives? They must treat them patiently and with affection to help them with their mental, physical and, above all, social needs.
It is also essential to know what resources are available and which family members will be available in case of emergency. It is also necessary for caregivers to be clear on the person’s illnesses and medicine requirements.
“I learned this job to better take care of my father,” said Cervantes González. “I learned about elderly care as the years went by. My father could not do things by himself. I decided to study elderly care courses so I could help him.”
The planning for elderly care must be developed consensually, both with the family and the elder adult. They have to establish daily routines, such as bath times, what therapies will be done, bedtime and meds schedules. In this way, the elder adult will feel safe.
Being the caregiver of an older person can be challenging and strenuous, depending on the patient’s condition. Work hours can range from eight to 12 hours a day. It is crucial to have time availability.
“My father passed away, so I saw I had the opportunity to help those who needed it and started to offer my services on social media,” said Cervantes González. “I am a mother whose two children are at the university. I have been able to balance my house chores, taking care of my family and my work. At the time, I have had no troubles balancing everything.”
The caregiver says it has been a process to learn how to do her job well.
“One of the first struggles I had to overcome were overweight elders that needed help getting up or some I had to carry to the bathroom. However, just like in any job, one must be skillful, not forceful,” she said.
It is crucial to ensure the quality of life for the elderly at home and respect their needs. It is not always possible to hire help.
“There are those who decide to take their elderly to nursing homes, and that is fine. In my case, I did not have the resources to send my dad to one, so I had to adjust my routine,” said Rosario Coba Oropeza. “Sadly, he passed away two years ago, at 89, and was bedridden for almost five. It is something exhausting. In his final days, we had to stay by his side 24-7. In my family, we are four brothers, and two of us have children to care for, so it was more difficult for some to be there.”
Despite the struggles, Coba Oropeza is happy to have spent that time with his father.
“At the end of it all, taking care of my dad was a beautiful experience, and I am glad I had those moments with him,” she said.
(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez; edited by Fern Siegel)
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