For those of us adults with aging parents, we’re navigating new and sometimes challenging territory. It’s important to remember that our aging parents are likely going through some difficult emotions as well. Specifically, many seniors struggle with losing their sense of independence and autonomy. Focusing on how we can actively help our aging parents honors them, and it also gives us a new perspective on the situation. With that in mind, here are some tips and tricks to help you ensure that your aging parents maintain as much autonomy and independence as possible.
Include Them in the Decision-Making Process
As your parents age, you’ll have many important decisions to make, including whether a senior living community is the best option for them. When the time for an important decision arises, remember that your parents should be an active part of the process. Avoid trying to make decisions for your parents and focus instead on making decisions together, as a family. While seniors need support, they’re not children and shouldn’t be treated like they are. As much as any of us, they should have a say in the decisions that will impact their health and lifestyle.
While seniors are sometimes reluctant to learn about new technology, many find that they really come to enjoy things like tablets and smartphones once they learn how to use them. Spend some time 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 this basic knowledge, your parents will be able to find new ways to stay connected with family and friends. You’re also encouraging them to learn new things and stimulate their brain, and that can help a great deal with their memory.
Mobility forms a crucial part of senior care because maintaining mobility is one of the most important ways to help your parents keep their autonomy and independence. Plus, exercise and stretching can help support your parents’ physical and mental health in a variety of ways.
Take a proactive approach to encouraging your parents’ mobility. There are many fitness classes targeted to seniors, so research the schedule at your community gym to see if you can find a suitable time, place, and workout style for your parents. See if your parents have a friend that would like to go along with them, too! If not, encourage them to chat with the other seniors in the class to form new friendships.
If you’re having trouble convincing your parents to attend a group class, you might want to look into private options. Some trainers and mobility experts will come to your house to do a session in the comfort of your family room or backyard, and that could be a great way to boost their confidence with tackling new challenges and activities./p>
Optimize Your Parent’s Living Environment
Doing a thorough inspection of your parents’ living space can be a great help. You’ll want to 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, electric lifts can help your parents navigate the different levels of their home. You might also consider moving their bedroom to the first floor of the house, so they don’t have to use the stairs at all. If you can make your parents’ space as safe and easy to navigate as possible, they can get around with minimal help and maintain their independence.
Find Mentally Stimulating Activities
Maintaining a sharp mind can also help our aging parents stay independent longer as they age – so make sure your parents are regularly engaging in mentally stimulating activities. The key here is to find something they enjoy doing, whether that’s writing in a journal, painting the landscape outside their window, or playing a favorite board game. There are also some great activities that combine physical activity with mental stimulation, like dancing, which involves both moving the body and learning and remembering steps.
For more senior living tips and resources, make sure to check out our Ebenezer blog.