Saint Paul, Minnesota
275 East 4th Street, Suite 345, Saint Paul, MN 55101
(651) 796-2540
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4 Tips When Taking Care of a Senior Who is Ill

Comfort Keepers In-Home Care in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

4 tips when taking care of a senior who is ill

Taking care of a senior who is ill, has a health emergency, or is in declining health is a responsibility with both physical and emotional challenges to the caregiver. As a family caregiver, there are a few tips that could help make the new experience more manageable.

When a senior loved one becomes ill, it is often their spouse or another family member who steps in to provide care. In fact, more than 1 in 5 Americans is currently providing care for a loved one, many of which began because of a health-related event. If you have recently found yourself taking on a family caregiver role, know that there are resources available to help you along the way.

Whether your senior loved one has a short-term medical condition they will recover from, or is facing an illness that will progress over time, here are 4 tips that can help prepare you as you take on this important role. 

Ask for help

When thrust into the role of family caregiver, it is often a sudden occurrence that you previously hadn’t really had to think about and plan for. And now there is a new demand on your time, daily routine, skills, resources, and emotional wellbeing, and you are doing your best to figure things out. Many family caregivers feel guilty asking others for help, but rallying the support of family, friends, and/or community resources is often what is needed as early as possible. 

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), on average, family caregivers commit 24.4 hours per week to aid a senior loved one. Making specific requests on ways to support you will make it easier for others to pitch in. For example, assigning a person to make dinner during the week, and another to sit with your loved one for two hours in the morning, or asking another to run errands, do laundry and bring in the mail. 

If your support network is limited, that’s when an in-home care partner like Comfort Keepers can fill in gaps or take on a heavier consistent schedule. Comfort Keepers is unique in that our care plans are flexible to adapt as the level of help needed increases or declines. 

Here are some resources that we have created for family caregivers: 

Take care of yourself first

It goes against our natural instincts, but when a loved one is in ill health you should ensure that you are first taking good care of yourself. In turn, you can be better prepared to care for someone else. According to recent studies, it is recommended to have 2-3 hours of free time per day to focus on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And if you had regular activities prior to taking on demanding caregiver responsibilities you should do your best to maintain those important outlets. Again, specifically asking others to be with your loved one on a set schedule so that you can get your needed respite will allow you to maintain your own health and obligations, outside of providing care.  

Be patient

It doesn’t feel good when we lose our patience doing our best to care for a loved one, but it happens. Focusing on techniques that can prevent this from regularly occurring, or knowing the triggers and warning signs to spot before things decline can be a tremendous relief for you. Take a deep breath, and remember that this is new and likely frustrating for your loved one as well. A good strategy to overcome emotional challenges and become more patient is communication. Talk to your senior loved one about how you are feeling and how the situation is affecting you, and in turn, ask them about their feelings. Doing so can keep you and your senior loved one on the same page and understanding of one another’s feelings, and creates the best path forward. 

Stay organized

When a medical emergency turns life upside down, reclaiming a level of order and consistency can help bring back some normalcy. Staying organized is a big part of this process. If new medications are part of recovery a weekly medicine dispenser can help ensure adherence to a schedule. A large calendar is useful to write down appointments, milestones and goals. And an overarching care plan can centralize contact information and service goals from the entire care team, such as the primary physician and nurse, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy, in-home care, and others. 


At Comfort Keepers Twin Cities we see firsthand the toll an emergent health crisis can have on families, especially older adults. And while in the short term it can upend life’s day-to-day routines, actively asking for help early on can more quickly get you needed support, strengthen your emotional well-being, and keep you organized so that you are set up for success in your new role as a caregiver.

We’re always happy to take your questions when considering a discharge from a hospital or transitional care facility, or are faced with a medical event that may require a higher level of support at home. 

Call Comfort Keepers Twin Cities at (651) 796-2540 to speak with a member of our care team.