Your parents took care of your every need when you were a child. You depended on them for almost everything. However, as they get older, we often see a role reversal. Many older adults become dependent on their adult children. Before they completely become dependent due to declining health and aging, there are several things you can do to help them to make their lives easier, safer, and more convenient.
The older people become, the harder it is to do the daily chores necessary to lead a healthy and safe life. Not only does their health start to decline, but they also see changes in their mobility. A memory decline also becomes common.
As adult children, it's your responsibility to know how to help your aging parents remain secure and independent in their homes. Whether offering to help around the house or providing them with the care they need, you need to do whatever you can to ensure they don't accidentally hurt themselves or make pre-existing health problems worse.
Have Reliable Lines of Communication
Communication is always important. The ability for your older parents to contact you or others for help is essential. There are several types of easy technology available that can make communication easy and convenient.
There are 'smartphones' designed for older adults. These phones are designed with louder ringers and big buttons. Most have an 'SOS' feature on the phone to summon help right away. You can easily preprogram phone numbers. These features add convenience and the security your older parent needs.
If your parent has a good level of comfort with technology, you can set up video apps on their device (FaceTime, Zoom, Skype). Not only can they communicate with you and their friends, but you also get to see them in their environment and spot any changes in their appearance.
Medical alert devices are also ideal. Some will go around their neck; others are on their wrist. Either way, a press of a button gets them help right away.
Personal Alarms can monitor the lack of motion in their home are available. For those who have dementia, a GPS tracker can find them if they get out of the house and start to wander.
Provide Them with the Tools They Need
Aside from communication, your parents will need other necessities to ensure their safety during the day. These tools can include extended grabber arms, handrails in the bathroom, and motion sensor lights in the bedroom, eliminating the risk of your parents fumbling in the dark for the light switch.
They can also benefit from audio amplifiers, helping them increase the volume of sounds around the home. Ensure they use these tools safely; keeping an amplifier at a high volume for too long can cause long-term ear damage.
Take On Chores Around the House
Aside from preparing them to stay safe in their home, providing simple help with daily tasks can make their life easier and safer. These tasks can include yard work, house cleaning, and throwing out expired food. If you don't have the time to help them with those chores, a housekeeper could come in once a week.
Older adults often ignore these little routines, as the physical strain is too much for them to handle. Allowing spoiled food to remain in the refrigerator or clutter to collect around the floor will only put your parents at risk of sickness and injury. Make sure to catch these risk factors early before anything happens.
We Experience Changes with Aging - Be Empathetic
Don't be surprised by your parents' frustration, moody behavior, and neediness. Losing your independence is hard for many people to handle. Your parents are going through it, and you will, at some point, experience these changes yourself.
Understand where they're coming from. Your parents once had careers and active lives. They were responsible for you and your siblings. Once a person gets older, these responsibilities diminish. They become the ones who need help and assistance.
Listen to what they have to say. Try not to be controlling. You might have to make decisions they may not like but allow them to feel they have a say in their lives even though you might have to make the final decision on their behalf.
Make Yourself Available
It's not always convenient to stop by and clean up a little, but you need to make time for it. Always know some ways you can help out your aging parents; they're not as active now, and they'll appreciate whatever you can do to assist them.
Use the communication devices you have set up for them. Don't ignore them. Even if you are checking in for five minutes, they will enjoy that time with you.
Keep Them Active and Advocate
Keep them physically, socially, and mentally active. Keep your parents busy socially with friends, neighbors, church, and other activities. Check with your parent's doctor to determine what things they can do safely. Live is not over just because they have become older.
Advocate for them with their health care. Accompany them to their doctor appointments and be sure to ask questions and take notes. Check with them if they have questions and review afterward with them on what the doctor has said.
Know which medications they are taking and what conditions they are being taken for. It is always best to get all prescriptions from one pharmacy. There are drug interactions, and if your loved one has several doctors, they may not be aware of all the medications being prescribed. The pharmacist will call to your attention any dangerous interaction.
Need for In-Home Care
You cannot be a full-time caregiver as most family members are untrained and often unprepared for this role. If they need help with daily activities or supervision due to declining memory, they may be better off with professional in-home health care. Getting help will benefit your parents and help you have the time to be family instead of providing care.
Keep in mind that Health insurance (Medicare and supplements) will not pay for his type of long-term health care. Check to see if they own Long-Term Care Insurance. If they do, start the claims process and use the benefits.
Too often, families delay using the benefits from a policy. There is no need to wait to get the help and the quality care available from Long-Term Care Insurance.
LTC NEWS can get for you free and no-obligation help in processing a Long-Term Care Insurance claim and finding quality care options and care coordination - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
Your parents were probably there for you; now, you can help them stay as independent and safe as possible. However, now is probably a good time to think about your future aging and the consequences that longevity will have on your family and finances.
About the Author
Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.
Contributor since September 25th, 2020
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