We all have to deal with the realities of aging at some point or another. Those of us with parents who are reaching those twilight years have to deal with them a lot sooner. We can start to notice that they are no longer able to do what they could, nor to live as independently as they could. It can hurt to see our parents becoming less vital as time goes on, but we don’t have to simply watch. There are things we can do to help them live independently for longer.
Make sure they’re on top of their health
The aging issues that happen naturally as time goes on are going to be the major culprit for dwindling independence. However, by helping them make sure they stay up to date with doctors appointments, such as annual physicals, we can address those issues much earlier.
Encourage physical activity where possible
Everyone’s ability to exercise is different, and it’s always wise to ask the doctor about physical activities that a senior loved one might be able to do safely. However, rare is the case where someone can’t be more active, at all. Besides encouraging more activity, you can help them by joining in or leading the way, such as going on daily walks with them.
Ensure the home is safe and accessible
Even as our senior loved ones lose some of their mobility and aptitude for physical tasks, we can still help them feel at home in their own home and make it easier for them to manage their day-to-day. Making accessible changes such as adding lift chairs or rails to help them use the bathroom can keep them self-sufficient for longer. Besides helping their self-esteem, it keeps them safe, which is the most important thing of all.
Ensure a healthy social life
Isolation is not only a great concern when it comes to the mental and emotional health of our seniors, but it has been linked to a loss of independence. In particular, there is a correlation between loneliness in old age and dementia that is particularly worrying. Helping your senior loved ones maintain their social life, such as helping them find hobby groups in their area, can keep their brain active for a lot longer.
Considering the need for care
It’s important to talk about what need for care your loved one might have when any loss in independence becomes clear. It may not necessarily be the case that they need a full-time caregiver, but they might need help with certain things such as transport and shopping. By offering the care they need at that certain point, they can still manage other aspects of their life with the same independence that they once had.
At some point, most people with older relatives are going to have to face the question of care and how to manage it. However, for most of us, there is still a lot we can do to ensure a more independent life for our loved ones.