Caring for your parents
Guest article by Megan W. Minogue
As our parents enter their elder years, they depend on us more and more for care and support. Here are five great ways for you to be a caregiver to your parents wherever they live — with you, on their own, or in a care facility.
1. Listen to Their Needs
While it might be tempting to think you know what’s best for your parents, remember that they are still adults who have their own personal needs and wants. Listen to what they need to maintain their health or even what kinds of groceries to pick up at the store. Do your best to accommodate them.
2. Respect Their Independence
Giving up one’s freedom because of reduced mobility, physical impairment, or having to move from one’s home creates fear in many, especially for seniors. It’s important to recognize that your parents will want to continue doing things as they once did, and may not be ready to admit that they need a bit of help with or extra time for everyday tasks. Do your best to adapt their living space accordingly, perhaps with some professional help, and remember that a little patience can go a long way!
While it’s important to respect your parents’ independence, it is also important to keep them safe. Investing in a medical alert system is one way to use available technology to ensure that if your parents fall or face another medical emergency, they can immediately connect to emergency services.
3. Be Encouraging
As our parents age, they may grow frustrated by the things they can no longer do or because their health is declining. Lend them a helping hand when they ask, and try to point out alternative ways of doing things if they have difficulty with certain tasks. Ultimately, you should try to be a positive force in their lives by encouraging them to do new things, accomplish daily goals, and to simply enjoy!
4. Stay Organized
Regardless of their living situation – in their own home, in your care, or at a retirement home, keep tabs on their schedules. This includes doctor and hospital appointments, activities, their daily medication schedule, and any special events. Encourage your parents to keep a record of these things as well, but it’s important to stay on top of things yourself.
5. Reach Out
Growing older can limit one’s participation in community and social circles. Encourage your parents to reach out and have lunch with their friends. Better yet, offer to host your parents and their friends for a cocktail hour or dinner party. This is a welcome idea if one parent has passed on leaving the other feeling alone and unmotivated to get out. Consider setting up a special club for their friends, such as a “widows & widowers supper club,” or a monthly excursion to the driving range. Sometimes laughter and friendship are better medicine than any scientific advancements.
These five caregiver tips are a starting point to help you care for your elderly parents. They’re sure to appreciate all you do for them.
Megan W. Minogue, PhD is a freelance writer, high school teacher, and personal tutor with nearly a decade of experience. She has written for various websites, academic journals, and media outlets, and has taught English Literature and Drama at the high school and university levels.