Now that your parents are getting older, you’re probably starting to think of ways to return the time and attention they gave you as you grew up. As their needs change, you may have to step up and take on a new caregiving role in your relationship. While it feels strange to imagine yourself “parenting” your own parents, helping them handle new social, health, and safety problems doesn’t require the same set of skills.
Here are a few examples of respectful ways that you can help take care of your aging parents and make their lives a little easier.
Encourage Them to Stay Social
If you’re worried about your parents feeling isolated or depressed, try to encourage them to interact with their friends and family. Without social outlets, older adults can face issues with their mental, physical, and emotional health. Talk to other family members about staying in touch with your parents and stress how essential it is for them to stay stimulated and involved in their loved ones’ lives.
To do your part, make sure to visit them often and make regular calls. Keep them updated on your life and invite them to major events, like birthday and holiday celebrations. They will be glad to be included. You may also want to take them out to community events related to their interests or recommend social groups for seniors that could help them make new friends in their area.
Take an Active Interest in Their Wellbeing
Next, it’s essential that you show your parents that you care about their wellbeing. Most older adults have health issues that they manage every day with medication, but some have serious conditions or intensive treatment plans that require more frequent doctor visits and other forms of therapeutic treatment. It is important for you to stay up to date on their condition not only to relate to their struggles but to have the necessary information about their current state in the event of an emergency. Make note of their current medications, nutritional needs, doctors’ contact information, and upcoming appointments so you can check in on their progress.
If your parent has recently transitioned to a nursing home, be even more vigilant about keeping up with their health. If their condition worsens, they may not be able to make decisions about their care themselves – leaving you as their primary advocate. Further, nursing home residents often face mistreatment and neglect that leads to serious medical issues like fall injuries and bed sores. If you notice any signs of poor treatment or physical abuse, report the staff members or the facility to the appropriate authorities and contact a lawyer specializing in nursing home abuse. Your parent deserves the best care, so it’s important that you monitor every step of their treatment.
Help Them Make Their Home Safer & More Accessible
If your parent still lives at home but their mobility is declining, you may want to help them renovate their space to be safer and more accessible. Clutter and unsecured furniture can increase the risk of a dangerous fall, so it’s smart to start by clearing up walking space and reinforcing commonly used fixtures and surfaces. You may also want to add rails to staircases and stability bars to showers for added support.
To ensure that your parent feels safe in their home, you can purchase them an alert bracelet as a backup contact method for emergencies. If they have a particularly hard time getting around, they may need timely assistance to get up from a fall or other incident. For issues like this, urgency really does matter.
As an adult helping your aging parents, you don’t have to be overbearing to be supportive. If you help them stay involved in your life and their social circles, stay on top of their health and treatment plans, and manage changes in their mobility, you can make major improvements in their daily lives and show them just how much you care.
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