How to support your parents as they age?
Photo by Mikhail Nilov
Growing old is a privilege, but not everyone sees it that way. Many worry about what awaits them as they get older. Of course, there are new concerns that occur such as an aging body and being a little more vulnerable. But there are plenty of reasons to get excited about the golden years.
For many of us, the first real experience of old age that we will witness is with our parents. Maybe they are approaching retirement or have already left the workforce. Their health could be declining as well. Or maybe they are trying to figure out what their lives will look like in the coming years. Either way, adult children often feel a level of responsibility to take care of their aging parents. These are people who gave so much to raise and care for us and we want to support them as well.
Knowing how to support your aging parents is not simple. They have changing needs and new priorities in life. The more you can understand them, the better you will be able to support them. Here are a few ideas for how you can care for them as they get older.
Discuss home security
If your parents are still living in their own home, then it is completely appropriate to be concerned about their security. The older they get, the less able they may be at protecting themselves in their home. There are multiple ways to improve home security that you can suggest to them, including locked windows/doors, investing in a new security system, adding outdoor lighting, and keeping the garage door closed. Any small steps that you can take to make the house more secure can protect your aging parents and their livelihoods as they become a little more vulnerable.
Connect them with a financial planner
While retirement planning should happen early on, the reality is that many are not prepared for a secure financial future when their working days are done. Whenever significant life changes are coming up, speaking with a financial planner can be very beneficial as you plan the next stage. To help support your parents and their futures, try to connect them with a financial planner who specializes in retirement planning. This will be especially important if you know that your parents have not been following a financial plan in the past.
Help make their home accessible
Aging in place is the process of staying at home as you get older. With new medical technology and wearable devices, this concept is within reach of more seniors than ever. But the house they live in may not be set up for them to thrive as mobility declines and health concerns increase. You can help them upgrade their house to be a safer environment that meets their changing needs.
If there are stairs in the home, consider suggesting a personal vacuum elevator installation. Replacing a basic bathtub with one that has a door entrance can prevent slips and falls. Automated lighting that turns on when you enter a room can prevent unnecessary movement to manually turn them on and off. Embracing Internet of Things technologies can make a connected home that makes senior living easier.
Encourage healthy living
Health will become one of the most important subjects with your aging parents. Even those who led the healthiest lifestyles will start to encounter changes when their bodies get older. Embracing healthy practices like a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and spending time outdoors could prolong their independence and help stave off some health issues.
You can encourage your parents to engage in these activities to take care of their bodies. Help them find recipes and dishes that incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and dairy. Suggest low-impact exercises that they can do that will prevent putting too much stress on their muscles, tendons, and bones. Visit on nice days and go for a walk outside or a mild bike ride together to get them some fresh air and sunshine, (but not too much). If you can support these healthy habits, they are more likely to enjoy old age and retain mobility.
Support parents with love and encouragement
If you want to do a poor job of caring for your aging parents, then tell them what to do and don’t take no for an answer. Obviously, this would be a horrible way to support them. Instead, you should do so with love and encouragement. Open up an honest conversation about these topics and listen to what their thoughts are about them. Don’t talk about these ideas as if you are telling them what to do, but rather make suggestions for getting the most out of their golden years. Talk about home security, financial planning, accessibility in the house, and healthy living in a way that shows how much you care about your parents and want them to thrive.