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Published On: Wed, Jun 3rd, 2020

How to Care for Elderly Parents

Aging parents can bring a mixture of totally different emotions from person to person. Some feel that their parents are coping well with age and can be amazed at how well they deal with the inevitabilities of life. Other times, aging naturally takes a harder toll, leading to difficult decisions that you might have to make about your parents’ safety and wellbeing. If your parents are starting to feel the effects of age, it is important to understand how best to care for them. 

Regular Communication 

A common facet of ageism is when older individual’s opinions are treated as lesser, which can have real impacts on the mental health of older people. It is important that you stay in regular conversation with your elderly parents about their health, their wellbeing, and their day to day lives. In an ideal world, this will just be to check up on them, but you will likely, at some point, notice that they start to cope less well with their day to day living. This may take the form of forgetfulness or physical difficulties like getting out of breath walking up the stairs. You should have regular, open discussions with the whole family about how you can maintain a high quality of life for your parents and speak to your siblings (if you have them) so the issue doesn’t become taboo. This will make dealing with problems when they arise a lot easier. 

photo/ StockSnap

The Big Decision

By keeping communication as open and honest as possible, you will have an easier time when it looks like your parent is struggling to manage on their own. This is a very common aspect of aging and happens to many people eventually. At this point, you will have to decide whether your parents will live by themselves, move in with you, or move into a living facility that makes their lives easier. This will be a tough decision, and it’s important to consider the needs of the whole family and work out a plan. If you feel that it is too dangerous for them to live by themselves, but will be manageable to live with you for a while, be prepared to discuss what happens if they continue to struggle with getting older while they live with you. 

Living Facilities

Elderly living facilities often feel intimidating, but there are two major types: assisted living vs independent living

Independent living is the perfect option for a parent who wants to retain freedom and live their individual lives (i.e., not live with you) but might struggle to live at home in case they have a fall, etc. Independent living facilities are individual homes or apartments in a closed community filled with seniors. This type of living arrangement allows your parent to socialize and live their own life with the comfort of knowing that help can be rapid if they need it. 

Assisted living is the choice that many people make when their parents need highly attentive care for long periods of time. Assisted living communities are communities where seniors live and get help with the day to day activities that they might struggle to do by themselves, such as showering, managing medication, and eating alone. 

Involve them in the process 

These two types of facilities each satisfy different needs in parents, but they can help to increase the quality of life in ways that might not be possible if they live with you. It can be a difficult decision to make, which is why open and honest communication throughout the aging process is vital. Ensure that you involve them every step of the way.

Author: Carol Trehearn

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