As your parents reach their senior years, you’ll eventually have the responsibility of caring for them. It’s only natural that seniors become physically weaker and suffer cognitive degeneration as they age, so you should be prepared for the day when your parents will need your care and support. These tips can help you ensure your senior parents remain as happy and healthy as possible throughout the remainder of their lives.
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Consider Alternatives to Assisted Living
In the past, it was an accepted practice to move senior loved ones into nursing homes once they started exhibiting physical and cognitive changes. However, research in recent years has found that seniors in assisted living facilities experience more emotional and cognitive health problems than those who remain in their own homes. Fortunately, it’s easy to find a qualified home health aide in NYC and other major cities. A home health aide can spend as much time with your senior parent as necessary, helping them care for themselves. A home health aide provides much more personal attention than your senior loved one would get in a nursing home.
Create a Safe Living Environment
As you begin to notice your senior parent’s changes in physical health, take the opportunity to help them update their home. For example, you should consider installing more shelving at eye level to keep your senior loved one from having to reach for items on higher shelves. You should also add more railings in areas that pose higher risks of a fall, such as bathrooms and stairways. Lighting should be increased in these areas and around the exterior of the home. Ask your parent about any other changes that would make it easier for them to age in place.
Address Transportation Issues
As your parent’s age, eyesight may worsen, and physical reaction time will be slower. As a result, it may be necessary to talk to your senior parent about giving up their driving privileges before getting into a serious accident. Before having this conversation, you should already have a plan for helping your parent get around town, whether that’s arranging for family members to help them or providing them with a taxi fund. Their vehicle could be sold to help them pay for public transportation if they agree.
Maintaining an active social life is essential to your loved one’s mental health, so they must have access to a wide range of activities. They can spend time at senior citizens centers or adult day care facilities as a means of engaging with other seniors in a social setting. Additionally, you should try to walk or cycle with your parent to make sure they’re getting some physical activity on a routine basis. If you belong to a gym, ask your parent to get a membership so they can join you. They don’t have to work out at your same pace to benefit from the experience.
Make Regular Wellness Checks
You should visit your senior parent at least once per week to ensure they are continuing to do well as they age in place. In addition to assessing their mental health, your visits should allow you to determine how well they’re taking care of their physical health. You should prepare dinner to make sure your parent eats a healthy meal at least once per week and go grocery shopping with them to encourage smarter eating choices. Make sure your parent is practicing good physical hygiene and employs good oral care practices. If you see signs that they’re not bathing regularly, changing their clothes, or taking their medication, it may be time to consider increasing your visits. If your family can’t spend more time with your parent, this is often the first sign that a home care aide is needed.
At some point, caring for your parents at home may become too cumbersome, so you should be prepared to consider assisted living facilities as an option. However, that’s best reserved as a last resort since your parent’s emotional health, and wellbeing is best protected in a familiar environment. Helping your parents age in place at home is best for them and for your entire family.