When your parents start to age, it’s a challenging season of life. 80% of the elderly suffer from a chronic disease, and the older your parents get, the greater their risk of suffering a health problem. It’s frightening when a parent’s health declines, and it’s often challenging to know what to do. You want to support and care for your parents as much as possible, without interfering too much in their lives. When do you start stepping in, and when do you stay out of it?
Until your parent needs an assisted living or in-home care, your job is to decide when to interfere. This is a tricky subject, and everyone needs a road map for getting through it. It should start with a polite conversation and go on from there. In the article below, we highlight some common problems. You might experience some or all of these as you help an aging parent.
One of the hardest parts of caring for an elderly parent is your reversed roles. Now, you’re the one with authority, the one who must make the tough calls. Your parent might resent this swap in authority, and their loss of independence troubles them. Try not to step on their toes as you do what’s best for them. You wouldn’t want to show up one morning and start telling them what to do. Instead, start slow.
When you first start to notice your parent having trouble with yard upkeep, driving, or another issue, bring it up. Don’t barge in and declare you’re going to take care of their lawn. Instead, say something like, “Mom, the kids are I are looking for volunteer projects this summer. Is it okay if I teach them about lawn care with your yard?” Your parent will know what’s up. However, they’ll appreciate this gentle way of offering help, and the chances improve of them saying yes.
Help Them with Purchases
If your parent is having a tough time getting out of the house, they’ll have a tough time making purchases. You may want to offer to do grocery shopping for them or drive them to the supermarket once a week. Also, if your parent needs a new phone, you might want to head to AT&T stores in Kansas with them and help them make the best purchase. Technology still often overwhelms some seniors.
If your parent needs help with an online purchase, like a CPAP machine for sleep apnea or a CPAP cleaner, you should help them navigate the World Wide Web. Help them do research on various products, pick one, and check out online. If your parent hasn’t shopped online before, they’ll appreciate your help when making the purchase.
Make Sure They’re Getting Out
Isolation is a critical concern for the elderly, and too many seniors live alone and don’t get out of the house. Social involvement is important for your parent, and even if they’re no longer driving, they should find ways to get out of the house. Encourage Mom or Dad to join a club or offer to drive them to activities. They could also depend on a neighborhood taxi service or a bus to get from place to place, if one is available.
While you can’t demand that your parent have a better social life, help them find ways to get out of the house. Plan a trip with them and bring the kids along. You don’t have to go far, since there are attractions to explore in Vicksburg, MS, Door County, WI, and hundreds of other towns across the US. A day of getting out and feeling good might encourage your parent to see people more often.
Make Sure They’re Safe
As your parent ages, their risks around the house increase. Any ten-year-old walks away from a stumble. However, a trip could become lethal for your parent. If your Mom or Dad is still sleeping on the second floor of their house, offer to help move their bedroom to the first floor. Make sure they have all carpets in place, and that all slick steps have proper rubber padding or carpet grips.
One of the worst places for falls is the bathroom, since the tile floor and condensation causes slick conditions on hard surfaces. Climbing out of a bathtub is unsafe for a person with limited mobility, so you should help them look at walk in tubs reviews and find an option that helps them take safe baths. A walk-in tub lets you shut the door, fill up the bath, and then walk out again once the water drains. They’re perfect for the elderly and the handicapped, and one could save your parent’s life.
Have Tough Conversations
Getting older isn’t easy, and your parent is struggling with the transition. Their frustration might make them snappish and stubborn, or it could lead to depression. If they take the stubborn approach, you might find their resistance juvenile. However, try to put yourself in their shoes. It isn’t easy to lose your independence, and your parent has good reasons to resist help.
Instead of making demands and getting frustrated by their refusal or help, try to have the hard conversations with your parent. Ask them how they feel, and allow them to open up about how hard this time is. Take time to listen. Give them as much freedom as possible. They might act like a child sometimes, but they’re still an adult, and they deserve respect and care.
New seasons in life are never easy. Your parent is entering a new season, and it’s often emotional for both of you. Don’t burn yourself out caring for a parent, but don’t leave them without aid and love, either. Try to support them in any way they might need, and help them stay active, healthy, and safe as they enjoy this season of life.
Photo by Rob.Bertholf