As our loved ones get older, they might require increasing amounts of assistance to maintain a proper quality of life; yet, many seniors suffer in silence or don’t advocate for their needs. Being alert, asking questions, and sometimes simply showing up can help keep seniors happy, healthy and vibrant as their golden years progress.
Maintain a social network
Many seniors tend to become housebound as they age, preferring not to deal with the traffic and crowds the rest of us may take for granted. They can grow increasingly isolated and reticent if they don’t have a regular social outlet or circle of friends to visit weekly. Fellowship can be found in many places; local bridge, gardening, or book clubs, and tai chi or yoga groups are just a few popular outlets for seniors to spend time chatting with old friends or making new ones. If no clubs of interest are in your area, support your loved one by starting one.
Senior centers usually require membership dues but can be a welcoming place for seniors to spend time with friends, take classes, and stay physically active. If alcoholism has been a struggle in your family, your local AA chapter also provides a safe place where people come seeking mentors or support. Volunteering is another morale booster that offers seniors satisfaction and purpose.
Help manage health care costs
Deteriorating financial conditions contribute to depression in retirees, especially when chronic or severe illness is involved. Loved ones may be reluctant to burden you with the details, but because seniors are perhaps the most targeted segment of the population for scams and claim denials, don’t be afraid to consult with an attorney who specializes in elder care if something sounds off.
Susan B. Geffen, author of Take That Nursing Home and Shove It! is an elder law attorney los angeles and a tireless elder care advocate who provides a wealth of advice on managing health care costs. This includes advocating with Medicaid and Medicare as well as finding alternatives, including church assistance and volunteer organizations dedicated to helping seniors with medical bills.
Keep the home in good repair
Seniors who choose to age in place may need some extra assistance keeping their home in good repair. Be especially vigilant with plumbing leaks or clogs that can damage their home over time, plan for roof replacement or repair, and ensure the home is adequately insulated to save on utility bills. Stock up supplies such as ice melt and cat litter before winter arrives, and offer to mow or find a neighbor willing to help with landscaping at a reasonable rate to make sure your loved one is dealing with someone they know and trust.
Regular cleaning can become onerous; bending, stooping, pushing a heavy vacuum can become more difficult over time, especially if illness or injury is involved. Offer to come and clean once a month or hire a maid service to help your loved one maintain healthy indoor air quality and living conditions.
Food is love
Seniors often become less likely to cook for themselves, and their diets can suffer as their taste buds change or they lose the energy necessary to prepare three meals a day. Meals on Wheels is dedicated to ensuring housebound seniors get regular hot meals, but church organizations and family members can also pitch in by making extra dinner portions and bringing some over or freezing leftovers. The social part of eating is almost as important as the nutrition, so kick your shoes off and enjoy the visit.
It’s common for our parents have difficulty accepting that they’re no longer the primary caregivers for the family and that they themselves may now need care. With compassion, attention and gentle perseverance, you can work with them to flip the roles and ensure they’re happy and healthy as they age.