None of us like to think about our parents getting older, but the fact of the matter is that it happens to us all, and actually, getting older doesn’t have to be a bad thing for your parents, especially if you are around to help them live as healthy and happy lives as possible.
How do you help your parents to be healthy and happy as they get old? Here are a few things you could try:
Visit them regularly
One of the worst things for older people’s mental health is loneliness. Older adults who are lonely are more likely to see a swift decline in their physical and mental health, and more likely to die before their peers who are not struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation. So, it makes sense that, if you want to help your elderly parents to be as healthy and happy as possible, you need to make as much time for them as possible. You should also encourage them to get out into the community, as much as they are able, and spend time with friends and family members other than you so that they can have as full and fulfilling social life as possible.
Be an advocate
You may be used to your parents taking caste of you, but as they get older, the roles may start to reverse a little and you will need to help them out a bit more. One of the most useful ways to do this is by becoming their advocate, so should they need a particular operation, government support, or the help of high-quality legal services to fight against elder abuse in an assisted living facility, for example, you are there to fight for them and ensure they get it.
Of course, you should only offer help when it is wanted and/or needed because our elders are entitled to make their own decisions and to have authority over their own lives, unless they do not have the mental capacity to do so, but anything you can do to show them support and fight their corner when they need it will be a huge help and much appreciated by them on the whole.
Look for sudden changes to their health
As you get older, your body starts to change, and unfortunately, many of those changes are not for the better. However, a lot of older people do not really notice what is going on with them, or if they do, many of them are in denial about their situations, which is why you, as their children, need to look out for any tell-tale signs of failing health whether that be signs they are becoming unsteady on their feet and may need some extra support to avoid nasty falls or a failing in their memory which could indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Take them out
It’s easy to isolate yourself away from the rest of the world when your health is failing and it’s not as easy for you to get around as it once was, but this is likely to lead to a faster decline in quality of health. If you are able, meeting your parents for lunch, taking them out on shopping trips, or basically doing anything you can to get them out into the world, is likely to do wonders for both their physical and mental health, so you should definitely make an effort to do so.
Help with practicalities
Whether it’s cooking nutritious meals for them, helping them to organize their paperwork, or setting up automated payments so that they never have to worry about paying their bills on time, anything you can do that is practical, and which will take a load off their minds is something you should be looking to do for your elderly parents as they get older and come to rely on your more.
Take care of yourself
Taking care of elderly parents is a privilege, but it can also take its toll and be quite stressful, as well as physically and emotionally demanding. That’s why it is so important that you take some time out for yourself where you can relax and de-stress without worrying about them.
After all, if you are not in great shape yourself, how can you do what is needed to ensure that your parents are healthy and happy too? You can’t, which is why you should never feel guilty for taking time out or saying no to non-urgent tasks if you aren’t feeling up to them!