Your parents can be your best friends, standing by you on your most important days, guiding you when you need some advice, and loving you unconditionally. However, as they get older, they may need your help. Here are a few tips for making their lives easier.
- Assess their Needs
The first step is to stop and think about your parents’ needs. Do not make assumptions. Caring for your parents is overwhelming, and it is easy to miss out on the things they need most. Luckily, you can fix this by simply asking them. Here are a few general areas they may need help with:
- Personal hygiene
- Family support
- Medical needs
- Social interaction
- Meal preparation
Think of the support level they are getting in all of these categories and how you can improve them.
- Explore Retirement Communities
Consider taking your parents to a retirement community such as Riverview Retirement Community. Retirement communities offer a sense of security and belonging, and they provide a safe environment with personal care options. Your parents will interact with others through coffee meet-ups, community advisory boards, spiritual study groups, and travel clubs.
- Make Their Home More Age-Friendly
As your parents age, they may have difficulty with activities that were once easy for them. Simple things like opening a jar or reaching for items on high shelves can become difficult. If there are safety hazards around the home, get rid of them. Older adults are likely to trip and fall if there is a lot of clutter around them. Preventing falls will make your parents more independent. There are many ways you can make their home more age-friendly so they can live independently for longer. Some things you can do include:
- Installing handrails and grab bars in the bathroom
- Adding an extra step to entryways to prevent trips and falls
- Adjusting cabinet handles and knobs to make them easier to grip
- Putting nonslip mats in the bathtub and shower
- Moving frequently used items to lower shelves
- Installing ramps or lifts to compensate for stairs
- Clearing the walkways and floors of loose cords, rugs, and clutter
- Limiting the need for bending down low or using step stools
- Ensuring that all rooms are well-lit and that the switches are accessible
- Updating appliances to make sure they work correctly and are reachable.
- Monitor Their Medications
As we age, our bodies change and we may become more sensitive to medications. It is important to monitor your parent’s medications to ensure they are taking the correct dosages and that there are no drug interactions. You should also be on the lookout for side effects and make sure your parents are aware of them. If you are unsure about anything, speak to their doctor or pharmacist.
- Improve Communication
Ensure that your parents can easily reach you when necessary. This gives them a sense of connection to you and ensures they can reach you when they need help. Proper communication channels eliminate the sense of isolation, especially if they can no longer hang out with friends often. Loneliness in older adults can take a toll on their health. Ensure they have a phone that is accessible and easy to use. It should have pre-programmed numbers to make things easy. If your parent like it, use a wearable medical alert device.
- Include Them in the Process
No one wants to feel like they are no longer in control of their life. As much as you may want to help your parents, do not take over their lives. Involve them in all the processes, especially if they are insecure about losing independence. If they aren’t in danger, don’t force anything on them. Start with minimally invasive approaches and offer more help along the way.
- Encourage Them to Exercise
Older adults need to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. It helps with their flexibility, strength, and balance. Walking is a great low-impact activity that can help reduce the risk of falls. If your parents don’t want to walk outside, take them for walks around the mall or even inside the house. Look for online workout videos that they can follow along with from home. There are also many exercise classes designed specifically for seniors.
- Modify Their Diet
As we age, our nutritional needs change. Your parents may need to eat more or less of certain nutrients as their metabolism changes. They may also need to take supplements if they are not getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals from their diet. Encourage them to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and red meat. If your parents are struggling to cook for themselves, prepare meals for them in advance or hire a home health aide to do it for them.
- Encourage Them to Socialize
It is important for older adults to socialize as it helps with their mental health. Isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. Your parents may not be able to go out as often as they used to, but there are ways they can socialize from home. Help them stay in touch with friends and family members through phone calls, video chats, and social media. There are also many online groups and forums they can join to connect with others who have similar interests.
- Get Them a Pet
Pets can help reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness. They can also encourage older adults to get up and move around more. If your parents are unable to take care of a pet on their own, consider getting them a small animal like a bird or fish. You could also look into getting them a therapy dog that comes to visit them regularly.
There are many ways you can help your aging parents live a healthy and happy life. Start by communicating with them; involving them in decision-making; encouraging them to exercise; and modifying their diet as needed. Socialization is also important, so help them stay connected with friends and family. Lastly, make sure their home is safe by removing trip hazards and installing handrails where needed.
Remember, no one has control over time or the aging process. However, helping your aging parents can give you a sense of power over the situation. You can protect their physical, mental, and emotional well-being with the above tips. Be aware that everyone is different, so instead of making assumptions, ask about the type of help they want and offer it.