As parents age, you may find more and more reasons to become involved in everyday concerns such as bills, safety and health matters. Elders are reluctant to let go of tasks they have managed all their lives, but it’s a good idea to get involved early, before larger problems arise. If you approach the tasks in a helpful, consulting way, aging parents soon become accustomed to having help available to them.
1. Think About Your Needs and Abilities
First of all, before you make the assumption that you can take care of all your aging parents’ needs on your own, you should stop and think about your situation and your abilities.
It’s best to make an honest assessment early in the process, so you don’t end up in an unsustainable situation. If you take on too much and burn yourself out physically or emotionally, you won’t be able to help your aging parents or yourself.
For example, pay attention to whether your health allows you to care for someone physically, whether you live close enough to provide enough care, or whether it would be better to hire someone to provide the type of care aging parents need.
2. Be Respectful
One of the best tips on helping aging parents is to be respectful. Remember that your parents are still your parents, no matter how old they are or how their abilities change. They deserve respect and dignity.
While many people characterize caring for aging parents as a “role reversal,” it’s essential to understand that older people are not children who need “nurturing.” Therefore, you should consider that the more you insist on being in control of a particular situation, the more likely mom and dad will resist your “help.”
More: Parents, Communication, and the Pressures of Being the Oldest Child
3. Stay in Touch
Another excellent tip on helping aging parents is to stay in touch. Luckily, staying in touch from afar is now cheaper and easier than ever. Whether it’s calls, messages, or video calls, you can connect with your parents every day, no matter where you are. You should use this time and opportunity to look after your parents for changes in their appearance, mood, or behavior. You must take into account any significant changes.
You can also teach your parents how to use modern technology. This will make it easier for you to stay connected. And besides, your aging parents will be able to learn new things from the Internet, read the thoughts of others and find old friends on social networks. Here are the topics for conversations.
Older people, especially those who have to stay at home for a long time, are in great need of communication. And this is the main thing that you can give to parents by taking care of them. To communicate more often, schedule a call to your mom or dad in your daily schedule so you don’t forget about it in an endless stream of to-dos, as it is just as important to talk to them about world events, news and interests.
5. Take Care of Home Safety Basics
Another one of the most useful tips on helping aging parents is to take care of home safety basics. Older people tend to be more vulnerable to theft, violence, and pressure than the rest of the population. Social isolation, cognitive impairment, mobility problems, poor eyesight, and heightened gullibility make older adults prime targets for strangers.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep an eye on who communicates with your parents. First of all, you can install a video intercom. This will allow you to see who and when is at your parents’ door. You can set it up so you can talk to the person who came via the intercom and open the door for him.
You can also install video cameras with microphones inside your home, allowing you to keep an eye on those entering their home and see if your parents are treated well. You can even make the cameras visible to act as a deterrent to inappropriate behavior. In addition, you can add a home security system that you can turn on and off remotely from your phone, keeping your aging parents and their property safe from intruders.
More: 10 Common Family Problems and How to Solve Them
6. Automatic Bill Pay
Occasionally, aging parents may have problems with bill paying. As short-term memory fades, they may have lost bills, forgotten bills, or bills items that they don’t remember purchasing.
“Automatic bill paying” systems can help to eliminate the searching for bills and worries about paying them on time. In addition, they can free up the aging parent to enjoy doing more pleasurable activities than sitting down with a checkbook and a book of stamps.
7. Cars and Driving
One of the hardest things to accomplish with aging parents is getting them to release their driving privileges. They may feel perfectly competent to drive their vehicle to the supermarket and doctor’s office, in spite of evidence to the contrary. They may become angry and defensive when you broach the subject. This situation requires a great deal of tact and finesse.
If you live in a state that demands on-the-road driving tests for elderly drivers, the decision may be out of your hands. If your state does not require this testing, you will have to determine on your own when the elderly driver needs to hang up their car keys.
If you meet resistance, you may need to bring in your parent’s physician to advise him of the dangers of driving when no longer able. Offer to set up certain days for driving him around on errands. Add enjoyable activities like lunch, a round of golf, shopping or other favorite pastimes.
8. Medical Alert Buttons
If your aging parent suffers from a known medical condition, you may feel better about their living alone if you purchase a medical alert system that allows them to push a button if they fall or feel unwell. Medical alert companies serve larger communities and can help to provide immediate medical care if your loved one requires help.
A medical alert system for the elderly is a device capable of transmitting signals to round-the-clock emergency services. Most extreme situations are associated with the negligence or absent-mindedness of the elderly. Therefore, any force majeure situation is dangerous. In addition, they are successfully used to ensure the safety of people of retirement age in the event of an attack by robbers or scammers.
9. Mental Stimulation
For some elders, the most significant thing you can do is to provide mental stimulation. As people age, they may need to limit their activities. Unfortunately, this limitation can also cause less mental stimulation at a time when creating new brain connections can help maintain function.
You can provide an essential service by engaging your aging parents in conversation, card games, going out to movies, discussing current events, and other brain-stimulating activities. For technology-inclined seniors, frequently communicating through email or phone texting can help to keep your loved one engaged and involved in family activities.
Time spent on these activities can have a significant and noticeable effect on your loved ones’ mental function. This will really give your parents a sense of being cared for and help you get the joy of being cared for.
10. Part-time Helpers
Some seniors with ongoing medical issues may need daily visits from medical professionals to maintain their health. Other seniors may be physically healthy but need a little help with daily chores around the house, accompanying them on errands, fixing meals, or simply playing cards with them. Fortunately, a number of non-medical, visiting helper agencies are now available to help with these tasks.
You can choose the tasks and the number of visits you need so you don’t have to worry about your parents’ health when you can’t be around. Elders are sometimes reluctant to trust a hired stranger to come into their homes, but these trained, caring strangers soon become trusted friends.
Though transitioning from independence to accepting help can be difficult, you can add a great deal of comfort and security to your aging parent’s life with these few techniques.
More: 10 Ways to Teach Your Children to Respect Their Grandparents
Below, we have compiled a list of the most interesting questions about helping aging people: