Watching your parents age is a difficult process for everyone involved. When someone we used to rely on so heavily now becomes dependent on us, it can feel destabilizing. It’s important to remember that your aging parent is also going through some difficult emotions as well. Specifically, many struggle with losing their sense of independence and autonomy. Whether your parents live in one of our Ebenezer assisted living communities or not, it’s important to find ways to help them feel like they are still in control of their own life. Here are some tips and tricks to help you ensure that your aging parent maintains as much autonomy and independence as possible.
Include Them in the Decision-Making Process
As your parents age, there will be many important decisions you will need to make. You will need to decide whether a senior living home is the best option for them. There will also be a number of health-related decisions to make for your parents. When these important decisions arise, remember that your parents should be an active part of the process. Avoid trying to make decisions for your parents but, rather, focus on making decisions together as a family. While seniors do need support, they are not children so they should not be treated like they are. Instead, remember that they are autonomous adults and should have a say in the decisions that will impact their health and lifestyle.
Many older people are reluctant to learn about new technology. However, while they may think that they don’t want a computer or a smartphone, once they learn how to use it many people come to enjoy the use of new technology. So, sit down with your parents and see if you can teach them the basics of how to use a computer and a smartphone. Start with small tasks. For example, teach them how to search for information on the web using a laptop. You can also teach them how to text, video chat and make calls on a smartphone. With these small tasks, your parents will be able to find new ways to stay connected with family and friends. In addition, they will have the opportunity to learn new things and stimulate their brain. This can help considerably with memory care.
Mobility is a crucial part of senior care. This is because maintaining mobility is one of the most important ways to help your parents maintain their autonomy and independence. Plus, exercise and stretching can help support your parent’s physical and mental health in a wide variety of ways. So, take a proactive approach to this. There are many fitness classes that are targeted to older people, so research the schedule at your local community center and gym to see if you can find a suitable time, place, and workout style for your parents. This is a great activity to do with others so see if your parents have a friend that would like to go along with them. If not, encourage them to chat with the other people their age in the class to form some new bonds and connections. Whether you are older or younger, for many people, attending a new workout class can be anxiety-provoking and intimidating. If you’re having trouble convincing your parents to attend a group class, you might want to look into private options. There are many trainers and mobility experts who will come to your house to do a session in the comfort of your family room or backyard! This might be a great way to boost your parent’s confidence and help them be more able and willing to take on new challenges and activities.
Optimize Your Parent’s Living Environment
Whether your parents are at one of our senior living homes or not, it’s a good idea to do a thorough inspection of their space. Take note of any safety hazards and talk to your parents about how they get around and navigate the space. If stairs are an issue, there are electric options to help your parents navigate the different levels of their home. Or, you could consider moving their bedroom to the first floor of the house so that they don’t have to use the stairs at all. If you can make your parent’s space as safe and easy to navigate as possible, they can get around with minimal help. This will allow them to maintain a high level of independence and autonomy.
Find Mentally Stimulating Activities
Maintaining independence and autonomy is highly connected to mobility. But, we often forget that maintaining a sharp mind can also help your parents stay independent for longer as they age. As they say, if you don’t use it you lose it. So, make sure that your parents are regularly engaging in mentally stimulating activities. The key here is to find something that they enjoy doing. Perhaps this is writing in a journal or maybe it’s painting. It could also be a group activity like playing cards or a board game. There are also some great activities that combine physical activity with mental stimulation. For example, dancing involves both moving your body and learning and remembering steps. This makes it a great option for older people looking to maintain their independence by promoting mobility and mental acuity!
As your parents age, they might need the help of an assisted living community or independent home specializing in senior care and memory care at an Ebenezer community. It’s important to recognize that although your parents might need this support, it is also crucial that you help them maintain their independence and autonomy. Seniors are not children and should not be treated like they are. So, help your parents find their voice—they deserve a say in shaping their life!