As your parents age, your relationship with them will begin to change. It may feel strange to step into a caregiving role, but some simple tasks will be harder for them to complete by themselves as they get older. As a result, you may need to help them out here and there to prevent accidents, injuries, and daily struggles.
If you’re worried about coming off as overbearing or you simply don’t know where to start, here are some respectful ways that you can offer help to your aging loved ones and make their lives a little easier.
Offer to Drive
The first option is to simply offer them a ride when they need to get around town. While many older adults are fully capable of driving themselves, it can be tiresome and inconvenient. You can offer to help them out by picking them up for grocery trips, doctor’s appointments, and other errands. If you make this a regular practice, you will get to spend more time with your parents and they will know that they can rely on you when they need help.
While it may seem like a simple courtesy, this is also a great way to keep your aging loved ones safe. Sometimes, certain medications may make them too drowsy to drive at certain hours of the day. This could lead to accidents, car damage, and significant injuries. If you make sure that your family knows that you are available to drive them around, you can prevent those instances from ever occurring.
Update Their Home
Next, you could spend a little time and effort updating your parents’ home to make it suit their needs. A lot of household features pose unexpected hazards for older adults with limited mobility, so it’s wise to assess their home and see if you need to repair or replace any furniture or fixtures.
For instance, you may want to install banisters or guard rails on indoor and outdoor stairs for extra support. You could also declutter their rooms and clear up walking space to minimize fall risks. If their space allows for it, you may also want to install a specialty bathtub or extra seating to accommodate your parents’ needs.
Talk with Them About Their Health
One of the best ways to help your loved ones stay healthy and safe is to talk to them about their health problems, medications, nutritional and fitness needs, and treatment plans. While you don’t want to invade their privacy, it’s important to be aware of their needs in the event of an emergency. For instance, you may need to know potential interactions and side effects of the medicines they take, signs of major health issues, or their doctors’ numbers to help them get the right care at the right time.
If your parent lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you need to be on top of their care and visit frequently. Depending on their condition, they could face issues like mistreatment, neglect, medication errors, and hygiene issues if the facility’s staff is abusive or inattentive. Make sure to ask questions, supervise care during visits, and report any problems immediately. If your loved one experiences any of these problems, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer for help and ask their doctor to refer them to a different facility.
Come Up with an Emergency Plan
Finally, you should develop an emergency plan with your parents. Make sure that emergency contact info is readily available to them by programming numbers on their phones and making lists to post throughout their home. You may even want to purchase them a medical alert device so they have a backup method of getting help.
If your aging parents are starting to need extra help, there’s no need to worry. Whether you find ways to make their daily habits easier, invest in upgrades for their home, or start getting more involved with their medical care, they will be grateful to see how much you care.