There are more than forty million unpaid caregivers helping their loved ones in the United States. For you, helping elderly parents might feel like an eventuality with it just being a matter of time before you have to step up to the plate.
But if you take steps early on to improve your parent’s situation, then they may be able to function well on their own for many years to come. Read on to learn tips for keeping your parent highly functioning so you too can maintain your independence.
1. Encourage Them to Exercise
Exercise is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for the elderly. If you have a parent who is not getting out and about much, it’s important that you encourage them to walk as much as much as possible and lift light weights, otherwise, their muscles and bones will begin to deteriorate.
By taking small steps to maintain their health, your parents will be able to maintain their independence much longer. Without proper exercise, they could lose mobility quickly.
You should also encourage your parents to eat well and maintain the diet their doctors suggest. Many elderly people have to limit their salt or cholesterol intake and paying close attention to those levels of consumption could help slow the progress of any illnesses they face.
2. Helping Elderly Parents Downsize
When your parents get too old to care for a large house, it’s helpful to downsize into a smaller apartment or condo. But many parents fight this prospect and cling desperately to their homes.
If you know that your parents will likely want to stay in their home, then you need to put together a plan for how to deal with things as they inevitably come up. Think about how will you talk to them about the level of care that they need and what kind of care is available in their home.
Also, help them understand how downsizing will benefit them. By helping your parent downsize now, you can help them avoid having to enter a long-term care facility in the future.
3. Create a Memory Book With Them
As your parents age, they are likely to suffer from memory loss. Creating a memory book is a great way to immortalize the moments you have with them. It’s also helpful to include photos of friends and family members who aren’t around as often so that your parent can keep up with everyone without your assistance.
Try including the name, address, phone number, and birthday of everyone you know is important to your parents to help them maintain their relationships.
4. Be Their Advocate and Supporter
As someone who is familiar with your parent’s health problems, you can play the role of their advocate to ensure they are getting the care they need. By acting as their supporter, you can help encourage them to have the independence to speak up for themselves in the future.
5. Let Them Do for Themselves
Things like tidying the house can become difficult as you get older. But letting your parent manage as much as possible by themselves will be key to maintaining their independence.
Let them do anything they can themselves, and be there for them to help them with the things they can’t. Don’t overstress yourself by trying to do and be everything for them.
6. Teach Them New Financial Management Tools
With the advent of the internet, there are many more financial tools available than ever before.
Try to find a simple app for your parents to use to manage their spending and doctors appointments. While it may be difficult to teach them to use it at first, if you start while they still have a lot of cognitive ability, then this tool can help them if that changes.
7. Encourage Them to Make Lists and Set Reminders
Since your parent was raised without the benefit of a smartphone in their pocket at all times, they may not be used to setting reminders for things. But developing health appointment setting habits will be very important during the process of their long term care.
Take the time to teach them how to use the reminder tools on their phone and while you’re at it, you can even introduce them to some tools to organize their to-do list.
8. Keep Them Engaged With Their Hobbies
Staying independent starts with staying engaged in your community. That means keeping up with hobbies. If your parent stops attending bridge or garden club, then you should be concerned.
Talk to them about what is keeping them from going and help them remove the barriers in the way. Having that sense of community is incredibly important if they are going to have any hope of maintaining their independence.
One of the best things about living in assisted living is getting to participate in all of the activities without having to worry about how you will get there. See more about assisted living.
9. Help Them Find Transportation Options
Many people in the United States drive cars their entire lives and know little about transportation resources that are available to them.
If you have a parent who needs to stop driving, don’t think that you have to drive them everywhere they want to go from that point onward. Teach them about all of the options they have available to them. If they feel like they have a way to get to things, they will be more inclined to keep up with their hobbies and medical care.
10. Talk to Them
One of the biggest problems parents and children face when they are adjusting to their new roles is not communicate. No matter how difficult your parent is being, you need to take the time to understand their perspective and truly hear what they are saying.
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The tips for helping elderly parents on this list will help your parent stay independent for as long as possible so that you can live the lifestye you love.
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