Aging is a natural part of life. Many of us fear the process because we tend to focus on the negative side of it rather than the positive side. A long life full of experiences, adventures, memories, and a legacy to leave behind can be the privilege of getting older. However, we usually concentrate on what happens to our bodies when we get older.
One of the first experiences you may have with aging is watching your parents. The people who raised you and whom you were completely dependent on for a large portion of your life are experiencing changes to their bodies and minds. This can be a challenge to witness.
One of your responsibilities may be to take care of an aging parent in some form. Whether they are living in a nursing home or aging in place, their needs may be greater than in the past from a physical and mental standpoint. Here are some tips to help you take care of your elderly parents.
Physical movement is crucial for older adults, though it is important for everyone. Generally, the muscles and bones of the body start to deteriorate with age, making it hard to stay mobile. This can quickly reduce a person’s quality of life, as well as their contentment and ability to do the activities they love. Encouraging exercise for your parents is very important when they reach a certain age. It may be helpful to work out together if needed via light activities, such as walking, biking, or swimming. Doing so alongside them can provide extra incentive for them to agree to the activity, and the benefits for their muscles, bones, and cardiovascular system will be positive.
Set Them Up With Telehealth Services
If your aging parents are still living at home, but you are concerned about their healthcare, then telehealth might be an important topic to discuss. Often, older adults may be hesitant to attend doctor’s appointments. Either they are afraid of what might be discovered and would rather remain ignorant, they are physically uncomfortable going out, or they think it is a waste of time at their age. These appointments are critical so that healthcare professionals can help them maintain their quality of life. Telehealth is one of the most helpful digital innovations in healthcare because it provides greater access for patients and their specialists. Help your parents get set up with telehealth services so that they can maintain some independence without foregoing all healthcare appointments.
Discuss Nutrition and Provide Support
Our bodies have resource needs, which is why diet is so important. The foods you consume directly impact the cells’ ability to function. As systems in your parents’ bodies begin to slow or shut down, nutrition becomes more important than ever. Working with your parents to teach them about nutrition can improve their health with the right balance of nutrients, specifically when eating fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and dairy. Additionally, you can help them get extra boosts of vitamins and minerals to help support bone health with products like calcium supplements.
Figure Out the Best Living Situation
One of the biggest topics of discussion for elderly individuals is living situations. As their healthcare needs increase, the decision must be made about where they should live to have the best quality of life for their remaining years. Often, this can be a difficult conversation, especially if your parents are set on living at home. The reality is that their home may not be the safest place for them, but a nursing home would be. Having this conversation is important to determine where they will spend their time so that they can enjoy their golden years but still be taken care of. Whether that means living in their current home, having a healthcare aide visit frequently, moving to a senior living community, or becoming a resident at an assisted living facility, the conversation is necessary to have.
Elderly individuals are often victims of loneliness. Many of the relationships they grew up with have ended due to the deaths of friends or family, making them more reliant on the few relationships they have left. Frequent visits from adult children, and grandchildren, can prolong their mental health and be a source of joy for them. Try to continue visiting your aging parents often so that they can experience relational health.
Prioritize Your Own Health First
The final tip for taking care of your aging parents is to take care of yourself first. Being a caregiver, even if it is for your own family, can be exhausting. You need to make sure your mind and body are in the right place to provide support and care for another person. Even if that just means a few visits, you still should focus on your health first so you have more energy to care for them when you do visit or give them a call. If you take care of yourself, you can provide better care for your aging loved ones who spent many years caring for you.