Six practical ways to help ageing parents

A challenging reality that all of us will have to face at some point is the fact that our parents are going to get older. This might be difficult to accept and even more difficult to navigate once things start changing. 

Something that frustrates many people is the fact that they don’t know how to help their families. What can you do for them to make this process easier? How can you be there for them and support them practically? We’ve rounded up a few ways that you can help your parents out when they’re ageing. 

1) Help with their health

Taking care of your health becomes even more important as you’re ageing. However, it might become more difficult too. Older people will begin to struggle more with health issues, might require chronic medications, will need to get to regular check-ups and might even need someone on standby for medical emergencies. 

You can help your parents in this regard by helping them purchase one of the best medical alert systems with a fall detector in case they need immediate help. Along with this, you can help them stay up to date with and schedule any medical appointments, drive them to them if necessary, and set up alarms or reminders on their smartphone to help them remember to take any medication.

Interestingly enough, you can get paid for taking care of their health. You can get paid as a caregiver through the Medicaid-funded program CDPAP (Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program), which lets patients hire their family and friends to care for them. 

2) Help with their wellness

Overall health is about more than just doctor’s visits and popping pills. Taking care of your health and wellness shouldn’t stop after you hit 30 – in fact, it might just become even more important in your golden years. Your ageing parents need to be living well too!

In this regard, they’re going to need a lot of encouragement and maybe even some company. Try to motivate them to keep active and moving by going on walks with them and booking them in for some workout classes (that are appropriate for their activity and mobility levels). Even some simple daily stretching will do wonders for their movement and comfort. 

You can also encourage them to keep eating a healthy balanced diet. If they need help, preparing some healthy meals for them that they can simply reheat and eat in a flash might be a good idea. 

3) Help with their home

Getting older means that your body will change, and that often means your needs and abilities will change too. Your parents might need some adjustments made to their living space that you could assist them with. This could entail things such as installing a bedrail and railings in their bathroom. 

Certain circumstances may require that your parents need 24 hour assistance when they’re older. If you have the time and means, you could offer to take care of them, but if this isn’t the case then you have no reason to feel bad. Offering to help them find live-in assistance or a caretaking facility is more than enough from your side and will be a major help to them.

4) Help them socialise

Ageing can be a lonely and isolated experience. Many older people tend to lose touch with their friends and might retreat into themselves and grow lonely and even depressed. Try to spend as much time with them as you possibly can, make them feel loved and cared for whenever possible.

You could also help them to organise visits with their friends, take them out of the house now and then or even teach them how to use video calls to stay in touch with you and other family and friends. 

5) Help with their mental health

Getting older can be tough on the body, but it’s tough on the mind too. Losing some of your physical ability, losing touch with friends, all these things can lead to a steady decline in mental health.

Help your parents keep their minds busy, active and positive by getting them involved in hobbies that will bring them joy. If you’re not sure what these are, or want to learn more about your grandparents, you can prepare interview questions for grandparents based on their life story. Aside from being social and getting out of the house from time to time, having something to keep them busy during the days can be exceptionally helpful, especially since most older people will no longer be working.

Long days spent watching TV are okay every now and then, but shouldn’t become a daily routine. Some interesting hobbies like knitting, puzzle building, and other crafts help to provide a sense of purpose and having something to work towards each day which can be an immense help in mental stability. 

6) Help yourself 

While we understand that you want to give everything you possibly can to help your parents and make their lives as comfortable as possible, you need to consider your own needs as well. Everyone has to make sacrifices for the ones they love at some point, but keep in mind that nobody can pour from an empty cup.

Make sure that whatever you’re doing for your loved ones aligns with your own needs as well: consider your own mental and physical health, your finances, and the time available to you each week. Biting off more than you can chew in terms of caretaking might be damaging to both you and your parents in the long run. 

There’s nothing wrong with delegating certain tasks, sharing the emotional load between siblings if you have any, and hiring on professional help in the areas that you simply cannot handle by yourself.

There are many ways you can help your parents

All in all, it might be difficult to watch your parents grow older, but there are plenty of ways you can help them to go through this process in the most comfortable way possible. We’ve listed many practical, tangible things you can do to help, but remember that your love and support will be the most important thing for them in the end.

Simply being there for them in whatever capacity you can, will be noticed and appreciated and can go a long way in providing them with comfort in their golden years. Remember to spend as much time as you can with your loved ones, because those are the memories that will matter. 

Photo by Johnny Cohen