By Sophie Okolo
Family caregivers can play an important role in senior living, if we let them. Here are four simple ways to involve them.
1. Engage them to tell you more about their loved one.
- Family caregivers know their loved ones like no one else. They can give you information that can help shape activities, memory care, and even improved rapport between the staff and residents.
- It helps residents feel more at home when you make their favorite treats, decorate using their favorite plants, or diffuse their favorite essential oils.
- Information from caregivers helps us see residents more completely — beyond their diagnosis and current life stage.
2. Include family caregivers whenever possible.
Involving families in certain facets of senior living can help maintain residents’ social and emotional ties. Family involvement can include visiting and partaking in social activities with loved ones, taking residents out on weekends, providing personal care, and communicating with staff. All of this can reduce loneliness.
3. Create a task force.
Consider creating a family caregiver task force that meets regularly to discuss supporting resident choice and preferences, and to drive the conversation around dementia and social engagement. The task force can include family caregivers, staff, etc., to make it a collaborative effort. Ultimately, the goal is to coordinate engagement efforts and support prevention and wellness for their loved ones. The task force can also advocate for residents who don’t have active or engaged families. Community change doesn’t affect just one resident; it can affect all.
4. Reach out to at-home caregivers about respite care.
People caring for loved ones in their own home — outside your community — would benefit from respite care. But there are still so many people that don’t know about senior living communities offering this. Educate family caregivers about respite care, and encourage them to send their loved ones so they can have a break. This helps them, and introduces your community to them for future needs.