The adult children of aging parents face a difficult situation. Throughout their lives, they have been the ones to receive help from their parents, but now, the tables have turned. It’s time to start thinking about how to offer assistance to the people who have provided care in the past. Below are eight ways to help aging parents.
1. Encourage them to stay active
Old age often brings isolation. That can have a huge impact on a beloved parent’s physical and mental health.
To help combat this negative effect, encourage aging loved ones to stay physically and socially active through organized social activities or moving to a Retirement Community. Even as physical strength and cognitive function begin to naturally decline, elderly people can benefit significantly from staying active.
2. Try to empathize
It can be difficult to deal with aging parents’ frustrations or moody behaviors, but it’s important to empathize with their struggles. Try to place yourself in their shoes to understand what it means to start to lose independence.
Not only that but what would it be like to lose employment, friends, and physical and mental acuity? Keeping things in perspective is the key to not taking a parent’s bad day personally.
3. Stay in touch: One of the main ways to help an aging parent
The number one thing that most parents want from their adult children is a sense of connection. Kids who live nearby can stop in to visit when possible, but even a phone call to check in and see how the folks are doing is helpful to maintain a good relationship.
Given that most aging adults feel socially isolated, just reaching out can make a big difference in their lives. That social time can be the highlight of their day.
4. Encourage the family to get involved
In larger families, try to share responsibilities and coordinate visits so that one child does not wind up shouldering all of the burdens of helping an aging loved one. Trying to do it all for them is one of the major challenges of caring for elderly parents as it puts you under great pressure.
So, ensure you reach out to siblings and others to help you with caregiving activities or provide you with personal support, as well as financial assistance if needed. Communication is key, whether it comes in the form of phone calls, emails, or family get-togethers.
5. Predict problems to help an aging parent
Parents who choose to age in place tend to face greater health and safety risks, but adult children can try to mitigate those threats. During visits, for example, look for potential safety problems like uneven floors or poorly lit hallways that make for an unsafe environment.
Look into ways to improve the situation, such as adding better lighting, and make sure that their essential items are within easy reach. If the home needs renovations, don’t let aging parents put them off. If necessary, schedule the appointments for them.
6. Act as an advocate
When a senior parent has an illness, they will benefit greatly from having a younger, healthier advocate like you. Take the time to learn about the illness and its management or treatment.
Then, find out what medications they must take and when so that you can check that they are taking the correct dosage. Also, offer to accompany the senior to doctors’ appointments for emotional support or if they are no longer able to drive.
7. Offer to help an aging parent with downsizing
It’s normal for seniors to want to downsize their homes as they age, but the process can be difficult. If a parent plans to move into senior living or purchase a smaller house, let them know you’re available to help with the move.
From decluttering their current residence to booking professional movers for the big day, you can help in many ways. Be sure, though, that you only do so with your loved one’s approval first. Just keep in mind how much emotional weight certain items can hold for others, and don’t be bossy about what to keep and what to toss.
8. Create a memory book
Most seniors experience memory problems. Creating a memory book can be helpful when you notice this happening.
A memory book is a scrapbook full of photos, names, and information about people and places from the past. It is designed to remind seniors of important facts. Working on a memory book together can also strengthen family relationships and remind aging parents of happy memories.