One of the hardest things in life is seeing your parents age and begin to lose their independence. Aging is a natural part of life, but it is still difficult to see the people that raised you starting to struggle with their daily life, and you will want to do all that you can to help them much like they have helped you throughout your life. It is hard to know how to go about doing this, and you will not want to feel like you are taking charge of their life, but there are a few tips worth keeping in mind which will help to make this process a little easier.
Assess Their Needs & Think About The Future
One of the first things that you should do when you begin to worry about aging parents is simply to take some time and think about what their current situation is, what their needs are and what areas of life they are currently struggling with. You should also think ahead to the future and what their situation might be – while it is hard to predict exactly what will happen, it is still a good idea to think ahead and plan for different eventualities.
Speak with Them
You should always speak with your aging parents early on and before the situation becomes worse and harder to manage. It is difficult and a sensitive topic, but having conversations early is intelligent, and opening up dialogue will make it easier to continue having these conversations in the coming years. Discuss with them what their needs are, what they want from the future and how you can help. You also need to be empathetic during this time and understand their frustrations as it can be difficult and embarrassing to lose your independence.
Talk with Family/Support Network
Once you have spoken to your parent(s), it is then a good idea to sit down with any siblings/other family members/support network to talk about the situation and to formulate some kind of action plan going forward. Of course, every family is different, but it is helpful if everyone is on the same page and kept in the loop so that together you can work to provide the best possible care and life for your aging parents. It is also a good idea to speak to their neighbors and give them a contact number in case anything was to happen or if they are worried about them.
Consider an Assisted Living Community
The toughest decision to make is what to do going forward as their requirement for care increases. They will likely want to stay put, and you could look into a carer, but often the best solution is an assisted living community like Brandywine Senior Living. These communities still provide a great sense of freedom and independence while also ensuring that they get the care and supervision that is required, plus often people get a renewed sense of life at these places as it encourages them to be more active and social with the other residents.
Understand the Financial Situation
Leading on from this, it is also important that you consider money as caring for an aging parent will always cost whether this is bringing in a carer, moving home or moving them into an assisted living facility. You should discuss their financial situation with them and look into financial support if required.
Enjoy Time Together
It is hard when a parent starts to lose their independence, and you will not want every time you see them to be all about health and finding ways to help because this can change your relationship. While you do need to check-in and find ways to look after them, it is also important that you enjoy time together, have fun and spend time together as a family. Taking them out is always good because many elderly people struggle with feelings of isolation as they age, so finding things to do out of the home can be good both for their physical and mental health.
Make Adjustments to Their Home
In the short term, there are lots of ways that you can make their home much safer and easier to manage whether this is removing rugs or investing in equipment like stairlifts and grab rails. Discuss with them the areas in which they are struggling and then look online for ways that you can overcome these issues in the short term.
Encourage A Healthy Lifestyle
Aging is inevitable and a natural part of life, but you should still encourage a healthy lifestyle so that they can prolong their life, maintain independence and look after themselves. This means encouraging being active with exercise if possible, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. You should also discourage harmful activities and behaviors, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating unhealthy food and being inactive.
Attend Appointments with Them
When your parent(s) do have any kind of appointment relating to their health, you should ask if you can attend with them and this is for a few reasons. First, it is helpful hearing what the doctor has to say and gives you the chance to ask any questions, but it is also helpful in terms of providing moral support for your parents. Attending appointments will help you to keep on top of any health developments and find out the best way that you can be helping them during this time.
It is difficult to watch your parents begin to age and lose their independence, and you will want to do all that you can to help. It can be hard to know how you can help, but the above advice should be useful and help you to take the right action. Communication is key when it comes to supporting aging parents and making sure that multiple people are looking out for them should help them to age gracefully and help you to feel less worried about them.