When your parents start to grow old and lose their independence, it can be difficult to see, and you will want to do all that you can to help. It is hard to know how to help as you may not live nearby, you will have your life (and potentially your own kids), plus you will not want to overstep and feel like you are interfering in their life. It is important that you do take action, though, particularly when many people will not reach out for help when they need it and so that you can help them to overcome any challenges they are facing and age with grace. Here are a few tips which will hopefully help you to achieve this.
Approach the Subject Delicately
Communication is key to success with a delicate topic such as this, but you must always handle this carefully. You need to find a suitable time and place to bring up the conversation and come from a position of empathy and understanding. Always listen to what they have to say and try to work together to find the best solution to any issues that they are having.
Parents aging and struggling with their daily life is not just a one-time conversation. It is important to check in on a regular basis once you have approached the subject and make sure that you are listening and providing emotional support and practical support. In addition to keeping communication open about any difficulties they are having, you also need to make sure that you are having fun, lighthearted conversations, too, so that they do not feel like they have become a chore to you.
Build a Support Network
Supporting your parents as they age is not something that you should take on by yourself, particularly if you do not live close by. This is why it is a good idea to develop a support network so that you can all help out and keep an eye on them. This support network could include anyone but generally consists of:
- Other family members
- Family friends
- The postman
Ask if You Can Attend Appointments With Them
As your parents begin to age, it is inevitable that they will have a few health issues, and it is important that they see their doctor for regular checkups as well as when they have a health concern. You will find it useful to ask if you can attend these appointments with them (especially if it is an ongoing health issue), which will allow you to ask the doctor how you can be helping, to make sure that your parent understands what is being said and also for moral support.
Find Solutions to Their Challenges
A practical way to help is to identify what areas your parents are struggling with and then find ways to overcome these issues. Communication is the most effective way to find out, but you can also look out for clear signs, such as the house being a mess, the fridge always being empty, or if they are not getting any social interactions on a regular basis and become introverted.
Following this point, you should also try to encourage your parent(s) to be social as they age as loneliness and isolation are common and can lead to both physical and mental health problems. Including them in family plans is one of the best ways to do this, but you could also suggest social hobbies, going to the gym, or volunteering to keep them busy and social.
Teach Them to Use the Internet and Smartphones
Leading on from this, it is also a good idea to teach them how to use the internet and smartphones if they do not already. This will help them to feel much more connected to the world, particularly if you show them how to use social media and include them in family emails/text threads. This could also join online communities, find help and support for any problems that they are experiencing, do their food shopping online, and much more.
Make Sure That They Have a Healthy Diet
Diet is incredibly important for overall wellbeing as people age, but it is often an area that people struggle with, whether this is because they struggle to cook or they find it hard to keep up with a weekly food shop. There are lots of easy healthy recipes that anyone can make with the right ingredients, and, as mentioned above, getting food shopping delivered is a great way to make sure that there is always plenty of healthy and nutritious food to hand.
Consider Senior Living Communities
If your parent(s) start to struggle with the typical aspects of daily life like cooking, cleaning, and getting dressed, you may want to discuss senior living communities with them. Places like Frontier Management at frontiermgmt.com can offer seniors a fantastic way of life as they can get assisted living and the medical care that they need while still retaining independence. Additionally, the community aspect and facilities mean that people can easily lead an active, fun, and social lifestyle, which is so important for people as they begin to age.
Encourage Them to Be Active
It is incredibly important for physical and mental health that people stay active as they age. This is harder if they have mobility issues, but even a daily walk can have health benefits, and there are other activities that they might find helpful, such as yoga, gardening, or swimming. Often, these activities can also help them to get out of the house, be social, and maintain some independence, so there are many benefits.
These tips should help you support your parents as they begin to age, both emotionally and physically. It is hard to see your parents age and begin to lose their independence, but there are ways that you can help them to age with grace and enjoy this time in their life.