When we were very young, our parents protected us, cared for, and ensured that we had the best life they could offer. Now that they are older, there’s a transition towards them becoming increasingly dependent on us. It’s something they will fight every step of the way, but sooner or later, we’re likely to end up in a situation in which we are the ones protecting their safety, ensuring that care is provided, and working to help them get the best quality of life possible in their twilight years. Even if our time is limited, there are ways that we can help them to live well as they age. Here are some ideas.
1. Medical Alert Systems for Peace of Mind
As they age, your parents will be at greater risk of falls, and those falls could have serious consequences like broken bones. Other health issues may develop too. Do a comparison of medical alert systems to ensure that help is at hand. A wearable device, preferably water resistant so that they can use it when bathing or showering, could act as a lifeline in an emergency. All it takes is the touch of a button, and help is on the way. This advance in wearable devices is definitely far more useful to society than some of the other uses people have found for wearables!
2. Spend Quality Time
Quality time together may always have mattered to you and your parents, but as they age, it becomes even more important. Many older people lack the confidence to go out on their own and will find that outings enliven an otherwise dull routine. When planning these forays, keep their physical abilities and endurance in mind. Extended outings can be extremely tiring for older people, so opt for easy trips and simple activities that match their interests.
Make the best of bright moments – enjoying a favorite dessert, going through family photos that capture happy memories and listening to their favorite stories – even if you have heard them a hundred times before.
3. Help With Errands, Calls, and Appointments
If you live near your parents, offer to do their shopping unless it’s an activity that they absolutely love doing themselves. As time goes on, they’ll find driving increasingly challenging, and may have to stop altogether owing to poor eyesight, slow reaction times, and increasing susceptibility to stress. You may find that your parents are struggling to do business online or even over the phone, so your help with making payments, securing appointments, and making necessary enquiries may be welcomed.
4. Make Sure They’re Eating Well
Apart from asking them directly about their diets, you can do a little detective work to fond out whether your parents are eating properly. It’s easy to make an excuse for peeping into the fridge or grocery cupboard. Do you see the makings of a balanced diet there, or are instant meals, snack foods and tinned produce all you can find?
Although advancing years usually mean that a lower calorie count is acceptable, elders often experience vitamin B and D deficiencies and will benefit from foods rich in Calcium and Magnesium. Fresh fruit, veg, meat and dairy products are the best sources of these. If possible, time some of your visits to match mealtimes. Observe them to see whether they are coping in the kitchen.
5. Look for Tell-Tale Signs That it’s Time to Employ a Caregiver
When your parents are struggling to keep up with housework and personal grooming needs, it should become apparent to anyone who knows them well – and nobody knows them better than you. At first, all they might need to keep them comfortable is a little help around the house. However, if they are becoming very frail, a trained caregiver can do much more for them. Household chores, help with showering or washing and dressing, and meal preparation are among the ways a carer can help to make life more pleasant.
6. Good Quality Home Frail Care for as Long as Possible
In the course of time, meeting your parents needs may become extremely challenging. Nonetheless, try to help them stay in their own home for as long as you can. Moving house is a form of stress that even people in the prime of their life find taxing. For the old and frail, relocation stress syndrome becomes a setback that can seriously harm their health and which can leave them feeling depressed and hopeless.
If you’re able to employ reliable carers, your parents may actually receive better care at home since they don’t have to rely on nursing home staff who must divide their attention between several residents at once.
7. You May Feel Saddened, but Never Let it Show
As a person who loves their parents, you may find it incredibly sad watching their health and faculties decline over time. The parents you once thought “all powerful” when you were a child slowly dwindle into dependency, and disorders like dementia can change them in ways that you find tragic.
Never let it show. Even when you’re the one making the decisions, try to guide them into reaching the same conclusions as you did. When insisting on some improvement they don’t really agree with, ask them to humor you instead of trying to argue. They are still your parents, and they’ll appreciate your positivity and ongoing deference.