There comes a time for everyone when it seems that aging parents need a little extra help to stay healthy, safe, and happy. If you’re in this situation, you might be uncertain about how to handle it, and what you can do to help them. Often it can be difficult to figure out their needs, understand the available options, and make those important decisions.
The good news is that by focusing on these 4 concrete steps, you will help them feel much more in control and confident.
1) Make Communication as Easy as Possible
Both you and your parents will feel happier when you know that they can easily call for help when needed, and get in touch with friends and family. That’s why it’s important to make sure that they have an accessible phone to use, and all the up-to-date numbers available.
This is not only a practical concern, but an emotional one. Loneliness and isolation have a hugely negative impact on mental health in the elderly, so it’s essential that they have people to contact.
It might be as simple as a list of phone numbers stuck on their fridge, or ensuring that they have an easy-to-use mobile phone programmed with all the numbers of family, friends, and services that they might need. You might even consider a wearable medical alert device, if necessary.
2) Think About Safety in the Home
Hazards to health and safety in the home become more dangerous with each year, and it can become very easy for elderly parents to trip or have an accident.
You should think about basic safety in their home, and remedying any potential problems. Check for tripping hazards, uneven flooring, and spots where hand rails could be installed if needed. Make sure their house is well-lit, and try to think about how you could reduce the need for them to have to bend down or reach up high to access essential items.
For less mobile parents who live in homes with stairs, installing a stair lift is an ideal option. Luckily, there is plenty of information and advice out there for anyone who wants a stair lift chair, so you should be able to find a solution that will enable your parents to stay in their own home for longer.
3) Encourage Them to be Active
As parents get older, they tend to become less active and more isolated. You should try to encourage them and help them find ways to stay socially and mentally active. You could start by finding out what is available in the local area by way of organized activities. Check out local museums, parks, community centers, and libraries to see what’s available.
We all know that physical activity boasts a wealth of benefits for strength, mood, endurance, and delaying cognitive decline. Encourage your parents to go for walks, or even to take part in exercise programs designed for seniors, if possible.
4) Consider the Financial Situation
Finally, it’s important to take a look at the financial situation. Caring for older adults will cost money, from improvements to the home to medical care and assisted living.
Try to work out a rough estimate for the cost of their potential living situation, including any care costs and/or home alterations, as well as everyday expenditure such as food, bills, and payments for any activities. Once you have a better understanding of their financial position, you’ll be able to work out what they can afford, or whether any financial assistance is needed.
We hope you’ve found this list of tips for supporting aging parents useful. Remember, it’s important to include your parents in any decisions, so that they don’t feel like they’re losing control. To really help your aging parents, offer empowerment and support rather than directions and instructions!