There are few things more stressful than caring for elderly parents. It’s a lot of responsibility, and one person in the family often feels the burden. But there are ways to make it easier on yourself, so your mom or dad can stay healthy and active at home. Here are seven tips to help you out.
1. Identify the needs of your elderly parents
It’s common for the elderly to need help with certain activities. Your parents might not be able to take out the trash or carry in groceries anymore, so you’ll have to step in and do what they can’t. Look for other ways that they are having trouble doing things independently. What had been easy before suddenly seems difficult now.
Try to think of what would help your parents do some things for themselves, so you won’t always have to be the one that gets it done. Maybe you’ll let them move into the downstairs bedroom so that they won’t have to climb up the stairs. Perhaps you’ll buy them a walking frame to give them something to lean on while they walk around.
Suppose either of your parents is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This can be a challenging time for you and your parents. While you can take care of them on your own, you’ll all be in a better position if you hire dementia care specialists to help you and your parents in this chapter of their lives.
2. Create a home environment that meets their needs
Your elderly parents will likely need specialized tools and devices if they can’t do things the way they used to. You might have to buy them a raised toilet seat if they have trouble getting up and down or a grab bar for the shower so that they feel more secure while bathing.
You can do other things to make their home environment more suitable for them. Place furniture in strategic locations so your parents don’t have to walk too far. Install a ramp by the front or back entrance so that they can easily go outside and get some fresh air. A few changes here and there will make life much more comfortable for your parents and yourself.
3. Make sure that any medications or treatments are clearly labeled
If you’re the one that has to administer their medications, then it’s important that you can easily read and understand what you’re doing. There might be a few different bottles of pills and potions on the countertop, and they’ll all look alike if they don’t have labels.
You need clear labels to know which medication goes with which time of day. It’s also important to keep track of when your parents had their last dose and how much they’ve been taking. This will help you avoid any dangerous medication interactions.
4. Give them plenty of opportunities to be active
One of the best ways to keep aging parents healthy is to encourage them to be active. This doesn’t mean they have to go out and exercise at the gym. In fact, many elderly people find it difficult to leave their homes. But there are plenty of things they can do right in their own living room or backyard.
Encourage your parents to get up and move around as much as possible. Maybe they can do some light stretching or yoga poses. They can also take a short walk around the block or garden for a bit. Gardening is especially good for the elderly because it gets them outdoors and moving, and they can also enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of their labor. These activities will make them healthier and happier, even if they don’t seem like much to you.
5. Make a schedule to divide the work among your siblings
Taking care of elderly parents can be exhausting, so you must have help from other family members. If there are only two of you at home taking care of your parents, then one of you will likely become burnt out quickly and start resenting those who aren’t helping as much.
It’s best to come up with a schedule that divides the work among your siblings. Maybe one of you can take care of the grocery shopping, and another can make sure the house is always clean and tidy. You could also take turns cooking dinner or helping with bathing and grooming. This way, no one person is shouldering all the responsibility.
6. Make time for your parents
When you’re with your parents, you might need to ignore some of your own personal needs. You can’t go out every weekend or watch that latest movie if this means leaving them home alone without any supervision. That’s why it’s so important that you make time for them.
Even if you can only visit for a few hours each day, try to make it a regular occurrence. This will give your parents something to look forward to and let them know that they’re still loved and important to you. Plus, it’s always good to spend some quality time with your parents.
Helping your parents live a healthy and active life at home can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re the one in charge of caring for them, these tips should give you plenty of ideas about how to create an environment that’s safe while also making them feel welcome and happy.