Most of us will be caregivers for an elderly parent at some stage in our lives. Some people may juggle caregiving with work and children. Some people can travel hundreds or thousands of miles to care for their parents. Every situation is unique, but when elderly parents can no longer care for themselves, they may require assistance. It’s important to provide the support they need while preserving as much independence as possible. With all of the changes that come with growing older, they may believe that freedom is one of the few things they can still control. Freedom provides elders with a sense of life, accomplishment, and self-worth. It’s important you do what you can to help them continue independent living for as long as possible.
As a result, in addition to balancing their desires, needs, and best interests, you must also consider their independence. Make sure you don’t cross the line between being helpful and being pushy. Here are a few suggestions for assisting your parents in aging peacefully and successfully for as long as possible without causing them to lose their freedom.
See the world through their eyes
Seniors slowly but steadily bid farewell to their employment, health, energy, mobility, friends, and freedom. This is enough to make someone irritable, angry, moody, or needy. Try to empathize with your parents while he or she is being grumpy.
Give them the freedom to roam without the need for your help
One of the biggest downfalls of aging is losing your mobility and therefore needing help from friends and family to get from a to b and feeling like a “burden”. While they aren’t a burden to you, consider providing them with a mobility scooter so they have the freedom to roam and live life as normally as possible without your help.
Encourage them to be more social
Isolation can be detrimental to an elder’s health and survival if they lose their mobility, energy, hearing, or vision. Your parents need to get out of the house and socialize with others who have common interests in order to maintain an independent lifestyle. Look for activities in their neighborhood or at the nearby senior center. Encourage your parents to participate in social activities, whether it’s morning coffee, a monthly crochet club, or a weekly bridge.
Communicate with them
It’s pretty common for parents to want to hear from their children. From email to social media, today’s technologies make it easy to keep in touch. Make it a habit to contact your parents on a daily basis. If you need help remembering, set an alarm on your phone.
When it comes to making crucial decisions, contact is more than just picking up the phone. Don’t give your opinion; instead, raise any questions you have and ask for theirs. Listen and give motivation and guidance, but only when asked for, give your own advice. Including your elderly parents in decision-making shows them that you respect their thoughts.
Finally, speaking clearly but not condescendingly, acknowledging differences of opinion, and raising concerns at the right time are all helpful tips for engaging with elders.