To age is inevitable⎯it’s something that happens to everyone, and no one is excused (yes, even the wealthiest celebrities and tycoons will age over time). No matter what kind of drugs or daily routine you have right now, you’ll age⎯you’ll see those wrinkles around your face, you’ll easily get tired when standing and you might even start to forget important details about your life. These will all happen to you in the future. But while it’s still not happening to you, it might have already happened to someone you love⎯it could be your grandparents, parents, and relatives. You understand the fact that for the longest time, they too, took care of you and now is your chance to return the favor to them.
Your parents may be turning 80 in two years. You’ve talked about where they’ll possibly reside by then, if it’s within your family’s home, inside nursing homes or for them to live independently. There are pros and cons of the options but right now, you’re thinking the most feasible (and probably the cheapest) is for them to live independently while ensuring that you as a daughter or son, will give them their needs. It might be hard for you to make this decision since you’re already used to having them play around with your kids or just have them around the house. But with all the right intentions you have in mind, how do you encourage your parents to live independently? These points might help you throughout the process:
1. Keep your parents healthy
• Diet: as the age increases, the appetite decreases. Their sensations of taste and smell also become less sensitive⎯they might no longer taste the spiciness of the stew you’ve prepared. During their golden years, they may opt to eat foods that are easy to prepare or convenient for them like fast food, frozen dinners or snacks. Encourage your parents to still eat healthy to improve and maintain their bone density, muscle strength and also prevent diseases. Encourage them to eat lean meats, lots of vegetables and fluids, and less amount of sweets and starch. Not only will this keep them healthy in the long run but it will also prevent constipation.
• Exercise: no, your parents don’t need rigorous sessions at the gym; a simple morning jog or walk will do. Talk them into taking a morning jog with you and your dog. This will be great companionship for them, and they’ll appreciate that you would take the time to do this with them. Any moderate exercise will also make your parents alert, mentally sharp and of course, healthy.
• Medical and dental check-ups: when your parents age, going out from the house might feel like a burden to them, and they would rather choose to stay at home. However, don’t let this behavior slide especially when it involves their medical and dental schedule. Remind them about their schedule weeks ahead and make sure that they keep them.
2. Keep your parents’ safe
• Driving: there are several dangers when elderlies drive. They may no longer see clearly, and they may not be as alert as they were before. When you think they’re no longer capable of driving, talk to them about it. Expect for adverse reactions as they might see this as a depressing stage in their lives. Make sure that you’re patient and calm when you’ll have this conversation with them.
• Home safety: even when you’re no longer living with your parents, it’s important that their residence is safe:
o Consider purchasing a walk-in bathtub;
o Do not polish the floor too much as this can become slippery;
o Eliminate steps if possible;
o Install grab bars in the tub or next to the toilet;
o Place night lights in all areas of the house;
o Purchase medical alert systems for within the home and make sure that these are always within reach
3. Keep your parents interested in life
• Prevent withdrawal: you don’t want your parents to stop communicating and have depression, right? Be wary of their behavior and make sure that you’re always available when they ask for your help.
• Arrange for company: if you’re too occupied, and you can’t spend time with your parents, make sure that you have someone who does. This could be another relative, another sibling or a family friend. If all of these options are still unavailable, consider hiring a caregiver for your parents. The caregiver should be able to keep your parents company, check their medication, provide transportation for their appointments and maintain the cleanliness of the home. Having someone to talk to will allow your parents to stay away from depression and keep their mind sharp.
Encouraging your parents to live independently might be difficult for all of you. There are a lot of things to consider, and decisions on this matter shouldn’t be rushed. But if you create the right mindset for them, the transition will be easy. You just have to assure that you’ll be with them throughout the entire process and you’ll always prioritize their wellbeing.
Director, Editing and Testing, ReadPlease.com
Cheryl conducts hands-on reviews and extensive testing of products as well as manages the editorial and testing teams at ReadPlease.com. In her spare time, she runs an ecommerce store and loves spending time with her daughter and dog, Blue.