How To Support Your Ageing Parents

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Photo by Ravi Patel on Unsplash

Ageing is a natural part of life. It can be difficult to watch your parents get older and become less independent. The dynamic between you and your parents probably been changing slowly between you for a number of years. As they get older and need your help, it’s difficult to know how much help to give or offer.

This time in a person’s life brings up lots of complicated feelings, and it’s difficult to know what to do for the best. There are still ways to make this a rewarding part of your relationship with your parents.

Try and see things from their perspective

Unless there has been a sudden serious illness or accident, your parents will probably transition slowly from being fully independent to need help. This period can be fraught with tension as you try to offer help and advice and your parents push back.

It can seem quite out of character to see your parents upset or even angry when all you are trying to do is help. But try to see it from their point of view, they are slowly losing their independence, and this is a scary situation for them to be in. Maybe the don’t want to admit that their eyesight is getting worse or their hearing is going until it becomes a real issue, you may just need to bite your tongue and learn some techniques for hearing loss communication.

Check-in regularly

Keeping in touch will keep the lines of communication open. By keeping your relationship strong, you’ll be better placed to recognise when they might need a bit of help and they’ll be more likely to accept it.

Try to get the family involved too. Often, people don’t want to place too much of a burden on one person. By expanding their support network to include siblings, nieces, nephew, grandkids etc. you’ll be able to share any caring needs across the group.

Help them make any modifications to their home

A home can be a dangerous place as you get older, especially if you don’t take care of all those little jobs that need doing. Help your parents make their house safe by making sure all repairs are carried out (loose carpets and handrails are especially dangerous), make sure everywhere is well lit.

Sometimes, more bespoke items are needed such as handrails, walk-in baths and stairlifts.

Get up to date on their medical needs

Even if your parents are managing to look after themselves well, it is a good idea to know what medications they take and who their doctor is. That way, if there is a sudden issue with their health, you are already up to speed on their conditions.

If they are suffering from a long term illness, do your research on the symptoms, treatments and likely progression of the illness.

Help them to have a normal life as possible

Keeping your parents physically and mentally active is great for their long term health. Take them on trips and activities, encourage them to join a seniors group or other organized activity.

It’s also a great opportunity to keep making memories.

Plan ahead

There may come a point where your parents are unable to look after themselves and their own affairs. When this happens, it can be an extremely difficult time for everyone. So that you are not having to make decisions on the fly, do your research in advance so that you know what do do and who to contact if you need to make clinical and financial decisions on their behalf.

What if they won’t accept your help?

If your parents are still capable of making their own decisions, then there is nothing that you can do to force them.

If however, you believe that they cannot make decisions in their own best interest, then there are steps you can take to obtain legal and medical power of attorney. This can be a lengthy and expensive route to take, so think carefully before you do as this is likely causing much tension between everyone involved.
Look after yourself too

Dealing with ageing parents can take it’s a toll on you too. It’s not unreasonable to feel uncertain about your own future, and how you will cope with getting older.

Make sure that you are taking time for yourself, getting other family members or respite services to help with any caring responsibilities. If you have children of your own, you need to focus on your own family too.

Eat right, stay active and keep doing the things that you love.

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