Aging is an inevitable process of life. Where you are right now, our parents have been there many, many years ago. But as you look at your aging parents now, you’ll realize that you’ll need to discuss important matters as they age. After all, they are not as young, healthy and mobile as they are in their youth. You need to ensure that they are their best health, as much as possible.
But aging seniors are different from one another. Some are very conscious about what they eat and feel about their bodies. Others are more adamant about doing what they want to do even if such things are detrimental to their health. As their children, we come at a crossroads between wanting them to be happy for the remaining of their years, as well as wishing them to be well and healthy.
Whether you’re the designated caregiver or just want to contribute to your parents’ health and wellness, here are the top things you need to keep in mind.
Bring Your Parents to the Doctor
Perhaps the first thing you need to know to start caring for your aging parents is to understand their current health and medical conditions. It is common to see most seniors suffer from deteriorating health, but are your parents merely suffering from the reduction of mobility and body weakness?
What if your dad has diabetes and your mom has mild dementia, and you didn’t know? You could serve food that may worsen their condition or fail to see the symptoms and warning signs. It is for the best of everyone involved to be aware of your parents’ medical conditions so you can move forward in caring for them in the best manner.
Accident-Proof your Home
You can’t always prevent accidents, but you can make sure your home is as safe and accident-free as possible. If your parents suffer from poor eyesight and decreased mobility, make sure to remove clutter on the floor which they may accidentally step into in the middle of the night. Install handrails and replace regular bathroom mats with rubberized, slip-proof ones. It’s also a good idea to keep the lights on especially at night, so it’s easier and safer for them to navigate inside the house.
Mind their Diet
The doctor’s appointments should tell you more about the current health conditions of your aging parents. In relation with that, you should also know what food is best for your parents, and which they should avoid. If possible, accompany them to the grocery and supermarket so you can both pick up food that will help them stay healthy. You want to do away from processed and junk foods, and depending on their health condition, they may need to avoid foods that are high in sugar, salt, and sodium. Additionally, you need to ensure that drinks are accessible to keep them hydrated.
Some people who are well into their 60s can still perform high-energy exercises like Zumba and aerobics. But if your parents are below that energy level, you still need to encourage them to exercise. Less and consistent activity is better than no activity at all. Consider a short walk around the village or help them do gardening every morning. For some light to moderate exercise, your parents may go swimming, biking, and brisk walking. These activities aim to keep them moving and avoid leading a sedentary lifestyle. These practices can help improve blood flow, mobility, and flexibility, as well as stabilize blood and sugar levels and enhance heart health.
Promote Mental, Emotional, and Social Health
Beyond the physical health, you also need to make sure that your aging parents are also mentally and emotionally well. The brain needs exercise too, and various activities can improve cognitive health. Sports and activities that include memorization and logic are the best brain exercises, such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and chess. Encourage your parents to join senior’s club on these activities, so they get to meet fellow seniors in the community and build new relationships with other people.
It is also essential that your parents can socialize. Isolation can be a tough challenge for aging seniors. It is best to encourage them to get out of the house every once in awhile so they can interact with other people. It is good to take them to the mall or the park, but your options don’t end there. You may also consider bringing them to the senior’s club or enlisting them to a hobby-based group (crocheting, gardening, and reading, for instance).
Consider Long-term Care
Long-term care may be a sensitive topic for some families, but it’s also one that you need to address at one point or another. Maybe you’ve decided to become your parent’s caregiver for the years to come, but circumstances do change, and you need to be open to other options. However, the first best approach to this discussion is to talk openly with your parents and other family members.
If in case you can’t tend to your aging parents for a few hours to several days, you can arrange with other family members who can take over this role. Your temporary replacement should know as much as possible about the needs and assistance that your parents require. Alternatively, home health agencies in Houston can arrange for an in-home caregiver to assist your parents while you’re away.
Any member of the family who assumes the responsibility of taking care of the needs of your aging parents has tall order to fill. At this point, your parents need support, understanding, and patience. Additionally, they may wish to retain a level of dignity and independence. Caring for your old parents for the long-term can pose several and various challenges, but planning can eliminate the stresses and inconveniences that you’re bound to meet along the way.
Leigh Robinson is a full-time assistant of a company that provides home care assistance to their clients. Assisting Hands Houston focuses on offering care in the comfort of their own home since they believe that the environment around the patients plays a vital role in their recovery.