As our parents age, we often find ourselves facing a new responsibility — caring and worrying about their wellbeing. We want to support their wishes, which often include maintaining their independence at home while ensuring they’re healthy, happy and safe.
Wherever you (or your parents) are on this journey, take heart in knowing there are simple measures you can take to support them at every age.
Safety at Home
No one wants to hear they’re no longer able to do something they once considered part of their daily routine. But, to make sure your parents stay safe at home, you need to have an honest conversation about your concerns and their physical health.
Make a cup of coffee or share lunch and brainstorm steps that will make their daily life easier. That may include:
- Creating a communication plan that quickly notifies authorities and family members during an emergency.
- Hiring someone to help with cleaning, laundry, and cooking — or designating a family member to help with household chores.
- Removing or modifying areas of the home that may present a danger, including the shower, toilet, stairways, rugs, and furniture.
These are just a few easy ways you can begin to make your parents’ home safe for their continued independence. Talk to your loved one’s physician or visit AARP’s website for additional advice on keeping your parents safe.
Take Care of Yourself
It can be easy to put yourself at the bottom of your to-do list. Make your health and wellness a priority so you have the physical, mental and emotional strength to care for and support your parents.
Ask for Help
You don’t have to do it all alone. Reach out to siblings, friends or professionals to help ease the stress of caring for aging parents. Siblings who live out of town can lend a hand with weekly or daily phone calls to check in on parents from afar or help by scheduling appointments.
A nutritious diet can give you the energy and stamina you need to tackle all your responsibilities. Make room on your plate for loads of veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.
Schedule a massage, get a pedicure or curl up with a good book. Spending time on leisure activities you enjoy can help you unwind and relax.
Exercise is a proven stress reducer and can help improve your mood. Head around the block for a solo walk or have a friend join you during an exercise class.
Talk to Someone
It’s difficult to watch parents – who once seemed invincible to you as a child – struggle with everyday tasks. Share your thoughts and feelings with a loved one, trusted friend or licensed therapist.
Find Ways to Connect
One of the many challenges of aging is a lack of social relationships: isolation and depression are common among the elderly. Help safeguard your parents’ mental and social health.
- Arrange to visit parents on a regular basis and plan on making regular phone calls to check in.
- Encourage family and friends to visit parents.
- Invite parents along on outings they may enjoy. This can include a visit to a park, joining the family for a celebration dinner, or attending a school function.
- Make routine errands a little more fun. Add a breakfast or lunch date before or after doctor appointments or stop for a special treat after grocery shopping together.
- Tap into senior resources. Many communities and churches have social groups and event calendars geared toward older adults. Consider signing your mom or dad up for a fun (and safe) exercise class or interesting lecture to meet new people.
Caring for aging parents can be challenging for many reasons. Your parent’s primary care provider can also help guide you to the resources and support you need to help keep mom or dad safe, healthy and happy.
At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares, and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.
About Dr. Rodney
Ania Rodney, MD, is a primary care physician and geriatric medicine specialist at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital Campus. She believes in empowering her patients by sharing her thoughts concerning the diagnosis and treatment, and explaining the details. Her clinical interests include family medicine, preventive care, primary care, adult health and geriatric medicine.