There’s a big learning curve and time commitment when you find yourself providing elder care. According to a study conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, caregivers spend an average of 24 hours a week caring for a loved one. Those are hours on top of your already busy life, which may include a job, spouse and growing children.
Still, you wake up every day with the goal of providing smart and loving care for an elderly parent or other relative. We’ve compiled six elder care tips to help you save time and meet your loved one’s needs. Inspired by our customers, these tips offer ways Time Timer can help you more easily navigate elderly care.
1. Automate medication reminders
You can’t be everywhere at once. Maybe you’re always there to remind mom to take her medication at breakfast, but you’re at work when she needs to take another dose at 4 p.m. Try investing in a Time Timer Watch PLUS® Small and setting a daily alarm as a reminder. It comes in four fun colors, so you can pick her favorite shade to encourage daily wear. The watch also tells basic time, allows you to set visuals timers and may be less intimidating for an older adult to operate than an Apple Watch or smart phone.
2. Manage play time with grandma and grandpa
Even if your parents are still independent, you may choose to help set some kind and healthy boundaries as they age. Your kids probably love hanging out with grandma and grandpa, but a play session may wear out your parents pretty fast. To keep everyone having fun—and on the same page—we recommend the Time Timer PLUS 20 Minute. Set the timer for the full 20 minutes and let your kids know when the blue disk disappears, it’s time to give grandma and grandpa a break. And maybe enjoy some cookies together.
3. Provide encouragement for challenging activities
Taking care of elderly parents often means convincing them to participate in activities they might rather avoid. This might be anything from exercises recommended by a doctor or physical therapist to a breathing treatment. To make these sessions go smoother for everyone, add our Time Timer Original 12" to the routine. Agree on a time upfront—say 20 or 30 minutes—and set the timer, so you can both watch time go by as the red disk disappears.
This allows you to set some healthy boundaries around the activity and offer an elderly person a sense of control: “I just have to try this for 20 minutes.” Our Original 12” is also a good choice for seniors because the large display makes it easy to see and the tab on the outside of the disk is easy to turn to set the timer. This gives your parent another chance to participate in the process.
4. Reinforce basic routines and tasks
It’s incredibly difficult for seniors to lose independence and control. But with a little help, you can help them regain some sense of freedom by helping them take charge of basic routines and tasks. Our Time Timer® MOD + Dry Erase Board allows you to write out a basic routine—from morning selfcare to the steps for making coffee or washing dishes—and set a time limit for the tasks. This may help someone with memory issues stay on track, especially if they check off steps, and give them a sense of accomplishment. You can check back in when the timer runs out and offer help if it’s needed.
5. Manage bathroom breaks
You’re excited to take your elderly relative out to a restaurant with the family or on a shopping trip, but you’re worried about the potential for accidents. The solution: Set an automatically repeating timer using the Timer Timer App, which is available for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Android. You can set a timer for any length of time—say 90 minutes or two hours—and it will go off at that interval for up to 99 times in row (or however many times you choose to repeat it). It’s a simple reminder to check in about a bathroom break whether you’re out and about or at home.
6. Navigate difficult family discussions
In addition to day-to-day challenges, caring for senior loved ones often means navigating family disagreements, too. You may have several siblings—or cousins, aunts and uncles—who’d all like a say in your relative’s care. This can mean broaching difficult subjects, such as finances, medical treatment, outside help and more.
Make these discussions go more smoothly by treating them like a business meeting. Reach out ahead to ask about concerns and create a timed agenda that includes the key topics. Use your Time Timer Original 8" to track the overall meeting time (we recommend no more than an hour) and the time slots allotted to each subject. Allowing your whole group to see the time passing can help you stay on track and make decisions together.
After all, the goal is to take good care of your loved one, and a timer might be another powerful tool to help you make it happen each day.