"You've come a long way, baby." And if you remember that slogan, you really have come a long way. Your kids are older, you are older, and your parents are older.
Approximately 49 million Americans are 65 and older, and projections estimate that they will grace the earth with their presence for another 19 years. Aging is normal, and everyone is going to do it. The only way out is to die young; most of us would rather not do that.
Old age. Our culture makes it sound like a dirty word, but with age comes wisdom, experience, and stories that, if not told, will be lost to history. Age can also bring illness, handicaps, dementia and mental health problems that make day-to-day living difficult for seniors to manage alone.
With forethought, planning and respectful conversation, your parent's final years can be a time for making joyful family memories.
The best way to deal with a potential problem is to prevent it in the first place. Helping your parents delay or prevent chronic health problems can add years to their ability to maintain their independence and give you the time to devote to your family and career.
"Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever“ – Walt Disney
Understanding is Caring, Too.
It's important to remember that your parents are getting older and that although day-to-day tasks may become difficult, that doesn't make them children again. Anxieties rise as people age, and they often begin to ponder their vulnerability and the reality of death and loss.
- What if I become to ill to care for myself?
- What is I get dementia?
- What is my spouse and friends die before me-how do I cope with the loss?
- If I can't care for myself, will I end up in an assisted living home or a hospital?
- What is I can no longer participate in the things I enjoy doing-will my life still have meaning?
One of the biggest fears as people age is that they will lose their independence. Often, they resist assistance because they fear relying on someone else will slowly strip them of the ability to make their own decisions.
Helping your aging parent stay at home and maintain their sense of self in their environment and community should be a top priority because it enables them to actively participate in their life.
5 helpful tips
regular exercise- We know staying active is essential, but it can also help older adults remain independent and prevent many health problems that come with age. According to the CDC 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, older adults should do two forms of physical activity each week to improve their health—aerobic and muscle-strengthening.
stay connected- Loneliness and isolation are seniors' leading causes of mental health problems. As friends and family members pass away, seniors often feel vulnerable and abandoned.
Participating in community activities and making new friends will help seniors feel needed and give them an outlet to share their experiences with people who understand. Introduce your parent(s) to new people in the area, attend community functions with them, and encourage them to invite people to their homes.
you are what you eat-:this very true statement can keep seniors healthy and active for longer, which is an important boost to their quality of life. A good diet in your later years reduces the risk of: Osteoporosis, High Blood Pressure, heart disease and cancers.
Help your parents shop for healthy food, teach them clean cooking and share recipes. Showcasing new menu items on "cook night" is also a fun way to introduce healthy meals—research which vitamins and minerals benefit older people and which food sources contain them.
If cooking is difficult for them, you can spend one day a week helping prepare meals for the coming week or enroll them in a program such as Meals on Wheels.
Senior aid programs have thousands of volunteers who deliver nutritious meals directly to their door. The friendly smiles and safety checks become an event that seniors come to look forward to every day.
mental health & well-being- Life changes in so many ways as people get older; some of these changes can negatively affect older people. Events like developing a chronic illness, facing cancer, losing loved ones, loss of independence, and increasing anxiety can lead to mental illness, especially depression.
Know the signs of mental illness so you can help them manage their mental health before they experience a severe decline in quality of life. It is much easier to get a person to participate in getting well before they become extremely depressed.
It is important to talk to your parents about their mental health and assure them depression and anxiety or generalized sadness are not weaknesses. They are treatable, just like physical problems such as diabetes. Talk about treatment options, including medications and therapy.
know their benefits & options- preventative care is critical throughout life but never more important than as we age. check your state benefits website and see what options are available.
Aside from Medicare, states often have programs in place for:
- Disabled People
- COBRA coverage
- Medically underserved populations
- Crisis counseling
If you do not find a program through the website, you can also call any programs and ask what resources are available. Once you have options, you can discuss together which would serve them best.
Whatever option they choose, knowing what their plan covers will allow you to assist them in finding medical treatment that is prompt, thorough, and doesn't drain their savings accounts.
Another growing trend among seniors is aging in place—ideal for those who want to maintain their independence and continue living in their own homes. There are many options available to help make this possible, from home modifications to in-home care services. By exploring these options, you can help your parents stay in their familiar environment while receiving the care and support they need. A helpful resource to explore this option is https://www.inspectionsupport.com/resources/home-modifications/. With the right support and planning, your parents can enjoy their golden years in the comfort of their own home.
No one really wants to get old. However, it is a better choice than the alternative. Taking the time to discover how to help your parents age gracefully so they can maintain their quality of life and independence while you maintain your own life will allow you all to enjoy life together for many healthy years to come.
When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.
Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you. Visit https://ulliance.com/ or call 866-648-8326.
The Ulliance Employee Assistance Program can address the
• Stress about work or job performance
• Crisis in the workplace
• Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
• Marital or relationship problems
• Child or elder care concerns
• Financial worries
• Mental health problems
• Alcohol/substance abuse
• Interpersonal conflicts
• AND MORE!
A Guide To Caring For Elderly Parents. (2022, July 18). Retrieved from Aging in Place: https://aginginplace.org/a-guide-to-caring-for-elderly-parents/
What to Do When Elderly Parents Refuse Help: 8 Communication Tips. Retrieved from A Place for Mom: https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/parents-wont-listen
Fritch., M. (n.d.). The Psychological and Social Impacts of Aging. Retrieved from Senior Homes:https://www.seniorhomes.com/impacts-of-aging/
Graham, J. (2019, December 6). How to Work With Aging Parents When They Resist Help. Retrieved from AARP: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2019/when-aging-parents-resist-help.html