As our parents age, it’s only natural that they may require more help and support from us. Whether they need assistance with everyday tasks or have more complex health issues, it can be challenging to know how to best help and support them.
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Here Are Some Tips for Helping Your Aging Parent:
1. Encourage Independence
Even if your parent is struggling with certain tasks, it’s essential to encourage their independence as much as possible. Try to find ways to modify their living space to make it easier for them to navigate, and give them options for activities they can still do on their own. When they are capable of doing things independently, it will help them feel more confident and maintain their sense of self-worth.
2. Stay Involved in Their Health Care
As your parents age, their healthcare needs will likely become more complex. It’s crucial to stay involved in their health care and keep track of their appointments, medications, and treatments. Consider accompanying them to doctor’s appointments to ensure that you understand their health issues and to ask any questions that you may have.
Better yet, look into any opportunities that allow you to personally care for them. Depending on the state and other specific factors, it’s possible that your parent could elect to have you serve as their home care provider. (And you could get paid for it!) In New York, for example, Freedom Care helps elderly individuals choose their own caregiver through Medicaid.
3. Be Patient and Understanding
Over time, people tend to become more forgetful and/or have difficulty completing tasks that were once easy for them. It’s essential to be patient and understanding, even if it can be frustrating at times. Try to put yourself in their shoes and consider what it would fee like to be in their position. Remember that they are doing their best and that they may need more time and support to complete certain tasks.
4. Help with Everyday Tasks
As your parents gets older, they may struggle with everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Offer to help with these tasks or consider hiring a helper to assist them. If you live far away from your parent, you may need to consider hiring someone to help them with these tasks on a regular basis.
5. Stay Connected
Stay connected and maintain a strong relationship with your parent as they age. Regular phone calls, video chats, and visits can help keep you connected and allow you to monitor their well-being. Try to schedule regular visits or calls to check in with your parent and offer support.
Advances in technology over the years have made it possible for people to feel connected even when they’re geographically separated. Consider giving your parent a walkthrough of how to use FaceTime or Zoom so that they can stay in touch.
6. Encourage Social Interaction
As your parent ages, they may become more isolated and have fewer opportunities for social interaction. Encourage them to participate in community activities or clubs that interest them. You may also consider finding a caregiver who can take them to social events or arrange for transportation so that they can attend activities on their own.
7. Seek Support
Caring for an aging parent can be emotionally and physically demanding. It’s essential to seek support when you need it, whether it’s from family members, friends, or support groups. Talking with others who are going through similar experiences can be helpful and provide a sense of community.
8. Plan for the Future
Plan for their future and ensure that they have the support they need. Consider their long-term care needs and financial planning. Having a plan in place can help alleviate stress and ensure that your parent’s needs are met as they age.
Don’t Forget to Look Out for Yourself
Caring for an aging parent can be emotionally and physically demanding. It’s essential to take care of yourself and practice self-care. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Try to find time for activities that you enjoy and make time for relaxation.
At the end of the day, the classic airline illustration applies. Just like you’re supposed to put your own air mask on before helping others, you have to care for yourself before you can care for your aging parent. Be strong for yourself so that you can be strong for them when they need you!