You were visiting your parents last week when it hit you: your mom and dad are both starting to show signs of aging. Your mom took a lot longer than usual to prepare dinner, and you noticed that your dad reached for the backs of chairs to help steady himself as he walked.
It’s probably hard to believe, but the same people who took care of you are now in need of your assistance. While you know your folks want to stay in their own home for as long as possible, you also want them to be safe and happy.
To help ensure that your mom and dad can age in place and remain independent, consider the following tips.
Help Them With Certain Tasks
As you saw first-hand with your mom, aging loved ones often need assistance with certain tasks. As Senior Helpers notes, whenever you can, do some of these jobs for them.
For instance, you could offer to come by and cook lunch or dinner a couple of times a week, mow the lawn and/or handle the grocery shopping. If you were visiting your folks from out of town, perhaps you could arrange for a landscaping company or grocery delivery from a service like Instacart.
When offering groceries and cooking food for seniors, prioritize preparing nutritious meals and snacks to keep them healthy and in good shape. To help your loved ones meet their nutritional needs, take note of these changes in their diet:
- An individual’s appetite declines with age. If your family member is burning less calories than they intake, eating less may not be a problem. Otherwise, this may lead to malnutrition and health problems.
- Seniors require less caloric intake, so keep them away from overeating, which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
- If your loved one is under medication, consult with their physician for any potential interactions of food and supplements with their medication.
- Look into their oral and dental health. If they’re wearing dentures, make sure that they fit properly to avoid eating problems.
Encourage the Convenience of Online Ordering
For loved ones who might find it more difficult to drive or get to the store, they may be worried about getting the medical products that they need. For instance, your dad may be dealing with some incontinence and is wearing disposable diapers at night, but is unsure if he can always get to the supermarket for more.
Sit down with them and reassure them that ordering these necessary supplies online is an easy, safe and secure option. For example, Simply Medical offers a full line of incontinence supplies as well as first aid kits, diabetic supplies and more. Depending on how computer-savvy they are, your folks may need help with their first couple of orders, but they will be relieved to know they have a convenient option for getting their medical supplies.
Assist in Making Their Home More User Friendly
Another way to help your parents remain in their home and independent is to channel your inner DIY’er and make some modifications to their house to make it safer. Remember how your dad was grasping at chairs as he went from room to room?
Have an honest and gentle talk with him about your concerns, and offer to install a rail inside the shower and near the toilet to help him with his mobility, as well as possibly in the hallways.
As Tender Care Home Health & Hospice notes, you can also remove anything that could cause them to trip when walking, like electrical cords and area rugs. If reaching up high to cupboards is difficult and your mom says she needs to balance on a kitchen chair to access her mixing bowls, either lower the shelves or help her rearrange everything so that the items she uses the most are stored right on the counter or on low shelves that are easy to reach.
Visit Them as Often as You Can
Loneliness can cause emotional and physical health to deteriorate. If you live in town, ask if you can come by on a regular basis and enjoy a meal, play a game, watch a movie or just shoot the breeze.
When visiting your senior, always make an effort to spend quality time with them. As their health isn’t getting any better, encourage them to stay fit and healthy through physical activity. Some examples of simple, senior-friendly physical activities your parents will love, can include:
- Walking and jogging
- Bicycle riding
- Swimming and water aerobics
- Calisthenic exercises
Moreover, you can invest in at home fitness equipment for seniors, so they can get moving despite staying at home. If your loved one prefers more robust physical activities, you can even put together a home gym to further improve their health and fitness and reduce their risks of injuries.
To stay in touch with your parents who live out of state, set dates for regular phone calls, and if your folks text and e-mail, check in with them regularly in this way. Staying in touch and talking, laughing and sharing news will help them feel happier and less isolated.
Aging in Place Is Possible
You adore your parents and want them to remain as independent as possible. By assisting them in a number of ways, including showing them how to place orders online, taking care of tasks for them, scheduling regular visits and helping to make their home as senior-friendly as possible, you will hopefully be able to continue to visit your mom and dad in their own home for years to come.