5 Thoughtful Ways to Care for an Aging Parent
Do you have a parent who has entered their golden years? Are you wondering what you can do to help protect and care for them?
As our parents age, the roles begin to reverse. For some, this change in thinking can be hard to incorporate into caring actions. Wondering how to make that transition?
Here are some actions you can take that will help you begin to step into a different role than the one you have been used to up till now.
- Ask after their health and really listen.
As we age, our health begins to play a larger role in our lives. Tasks that used to be easily achievable now become more strenuous. Even simple household chores can tire one out quickly.
If your parent is still living independently, make it a point to ask about how they are managing with household chores. As this is can be a marker for you regarding their energy levels. If they appear to be struggling, brainstorm ways to alleviate their load. Discuss the possibility of hiring a home health aide, or having a cleaner come in once a week.
Be sensitive about how you broach this topic. Loss of independence is a worry for seniors, so make sure that you assure them they will be able to continue on as before, only with additional ease.
- Pay attention to your parents’ social connections.
Seniors often prefer to stay in the comfort of their own homes, but the result is a diminishing social circle. Studies repeatedly showcase that elders with active social lives stay healthy for longer.
Ask after your parents’ friends and social circle. If you sense that they are no longer keeping up with their friends, find out why. It could be some form of embarrassment is holding them back. Or it might be a more practical matter.
Introduce your parents to clubs, events, and activities that they might be interested in that can keep them engaging with others. Loneliness is a problem that is common to aging individuals. And an active social life can help prevent loneliness in your parents.
- Find a bonding activity to engage in together.
Getting a new perspective on your parent can be made easier by participating in a new adventure together. Travel to a place you both have been wanting to visit. Or take up a hobby or attend classes to gain a skill that you both want to acquire.
Doing something new together can introduce a fresh element into your relationship. An added bonus? Mental stimulation will keep your parent’s brain agile, an essential for preventing mental decline.
- Shoulder a weekly or monthly household duty.
Just because your parents do not ask for your help does not mean they would not appreciate it. Pride could be getting in the way of your parent requesting a ride somewhere, or with some house maintenance task he or she is no longer able to manage.
Instead of asking if your parent needs help, schedule a once a week or once a month day where you help out around the house. Or, let him or her rely on you for their weekly Costco shopping trips and the putting away of groceries afterward. Mowing the lawn, or doing gutter cleaning are also tasks that you can take over for your aging parents that will alleviate their physical load.
Keep in mind that many parents hate to see themselves as a burden. So instead of asking if they have chores they would like your help with, offer to take up one or two.
- Help your parent with tech-related updates.
Does your parent have difficulty with online payments? Or with computer or smartphone updates? Perhaps he or she wants to do more on the computer, but lack of knowledge keeps them away? Do they know how to use Skype?
Take some time out of your schedule to help get their social media accounts set up. Or whatever other help they need with their electronics and gadgets.
Additionally, if you find a device that you think will improve their life, then find a way to introduce the product to them. It might take some effort on your part to get over their initial resistance. But if you know that it will help them feel closer to their loved ones and that it will improve their quality of life. Then it will be worth helping them over the initial hump.