When parents begin to age, it can be stressful for everyone involved. Aging parents have many daily needs, and their children want to be there to support them. However, most people aren’t usually prepared to see their parents struggling to take care of themselves, let alone step into the role of caregiver.
5 Tips to Take Care of Aging Parents
For many, caring for aging parents is a new and difficult road that abruptly appears amidst life’s demands. But it’s not an impossible road to travel. With these tips, you will be better prepared to care for your aging parents and help them navigate this new stage in life.
1. Protect Them from Scammers
The 21st century has been an amazing time of cultural change and technological advancement. But as people age, it becomes harder to keep up with how technology is integrating into our daily lives. At a certain age, your parents don’t want to keep up with the times. They just want to stick with what they know and let the latest technological trends pass them by. While this thinking is understandable, it also sets them up to be taken advantage of.
Older adults are prime targets for scammers. Their struggle to stay updated makes it easy for scammers to manipulate them into giving away personal information or savings. Protect your aging parents from these scams by taking the time to explain to them how these scams work and how to avoid them. If your parents are experiencing memory loss issues, setting bills on auto-pay is an easy way to protect them from falling prey to scammers.
2. Recognize and React to Elderly Abuse
At all ages, people value safety and security. When you make the hard decision to place your parents in a nursing home, you believe they are in a safe and protected environment. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Elder abuse can manifest in various forms, including physical, emotional, financial, and neglectful mistreatment.
Signs may include unexplained injuries, sudden behavioral changes, withdrawal from social activities, unpaid bills or missing finances, and poor personal hygiene. Additionally, isolation from loved ones, fearfulness around caregivers, and reluctance to discuss their situation can also be indicators of potential abuse. It’s important to be able to recognize these signs, so you can take action to stop mistreatment.
If you discover that a loved one is a victim of elder abuse, you should immediately call a nursing home abuse lawyer. These lawyers specialize in the laws associated with both financial and physical nursing home abuse. They are invaluable in quickly removing your loved one from an abusive situation and serving justice to the abuser.
While this may seem extreme, sadly, professional caregivers have become the most prominent abusers of the elderly. According to the World Health Organization, two out of three caregivers have admitted to committing elder abuse in nursing homes. This is why it is so important for you to be on the lookout. It’s never wrong to ask too many questions when it comes to the safety of your aging parents.
3. Regular Medical Check-ups
As our parents age, it is important to ensure they are receiving regular medical check-ups. Regular medical check-ups can help detect any potential health issues early on and provide the necessary treatment to keep your aging parent healthy.
It is a promising idea for all adults over the age of 50 to have an annual physical exam with their doctor. This exam should include a review of your parent’s current medications and any changes in medication that may be needed, as well as blood pressure checks, cholesterol testing, immunizations (such as influenza or pneumonia shots), and screenings for cancer such as mammograms or colonoscopies depending on gender and family history. Your doctor will also discuss diet/nutrition recommendations; exercise plans; mental health assessment; vision screening if needed & hearing tests if warranted.
Other recommended tests might include bone density scans (for osteoporosis) or electrocardiogram (EKG) if there is a family history of heart disease – both men & women should consider this test after 55 years old at least once every 5 years. Additionally, make sure you ask about vaccinations against shingles which could be beneficial especially since older adults tend to suffer more severe symptoms than younger people do when infected by this virus.
It is also important that you stay up to date with information regarding new treatments available for common illnesses affecting seniors like arthritis, high blood pressure etc., so that you can better support them in making informed decisions about their care. Finally, it would be wise not only to schedule regular appointments but also follow up regularly between visits – keeping track of vitals such weight loss/gain; sleep patterns; appetite changes etc. All these measures could help catch problems before they become serious enough requiring hospitalization!
4. Help Them Engage in Their Community
Keeping parents engaged in the community around them is especially important as they age. At this point in their life, their family has changed, and they’ve lost much of the independence they once had. They are entering an unfamiliar stage in their life and may feel isolated, unsure, and anxious. More than ever, consistent socialization and a feeling of belonging are important for your parents’ mental and emotional health.
To help your parents socialize, you should find ways to connect them with people in their age group. Be aware of social functions for the elderly in your community, such as bingo nights, group exercise classes, or art workshops. You can learn about these events by checking social media pages or reaching out to the local community center or senior citizen club.
These gatherings will give them a chance to meet people they can relate to and who understand their struggles. Be warned, your parents may not be excited to socialize at first, so be willing to accompany them. And don’t be afraid to take part in events! For your parents, your willingness to help them make connections shows them that they are wanted and supported.
Don’t worry if your parents don’t dive right into socializing with new people. That’s okay. Let them adjust and go at their pace. Sometimes that will mean they want to socialize one day while on another day they might need a break. But you being there for them often makes them more willing and able to join a new community.
5. Be Available for Them
Isolation is one of the greatest battles for your parents as they age. Their social circles have likely downsized, and it’s often harder to relate to the younger generations. It’s easy to feel lonely in this situation. Help your parents fight off these feelings by letting them know that you are available for them.
Being in the same room with your parents doesn’t automatically mean you’re available. Younger generations often spend hours on their phones, blurring the lines between real life and digital interactions. For many of us, sitting on the couch and scrolling through 60 second reels is now a fun pastime.
However, your parents most likely don’t (or can’t) interact with this technology. For them, using a phone is a minefield of pages and icons that zip around when they barely touch the screen. So when you’re phone surfing and partially living in a world that they can’t join, it starts to get a little lonely. Take a moment to disconnect and spend some quality time with them.
Sit down together and enjoy activities that bridge the generation gap. This could involve playing a classic board game like Scrabble or Chess, taking a leisurely walk in the park, or crafting. If you want to get sentimental, try reminiscing over their old photo albums or cooking and sharing a favorite family recipe. These moments of connection can create cherished memories and bring warmth to their day.
You’re Doing It!
In your fast-paced life, caring for aging parents can be another challenging responsibility. But it can be done. In fact, you’re already making yourself a better caregiver by seeking resources and reading this article. With these tips, you’re more prepared to help your parents live their fullest life, without losing track of your own.