It’s the cycle of life, and just as we can look ahead to our own retirements on the horizon, so are many of us facing the fact of ageing parents in the here and now. Juggling a career, running a home, and looking after small children, many of us then find it immensely difficult to have to contemplate the challenges of caring for our parents. But with an increasingly large elderly population, the fact is that many more of us will find ourselves having to make this scenario work.
How do we face these challenges and find a balance in our busy lives that enables us to provide the best care without sinking under the pressure? There are some simple steps that can help to ease things up for you and your parents:
One of the single greatest challenges that faces us in later life is coping with the impact of loneliness. Our lives go from full on busy, full of responsibilities with work and family, to a slower pace which can leave people feeling adrift. And it’s not just an emotional risk – being alone can have serious health implications, too. Meaningful and frequent interaction is essential. There are several ways adult children can help to support this transition. Firstly, taking the time to train our elders on technology like smartphones and Skype can make a world of difference, especially if they are further away. It may take a few attempts, but once they are au fait with how to use it, it can be transformative, especially if you get them a senior-friendly smartphone.
Also, aim to help them get more involved in the local community – seek out social and neighbourhood schemes they can join and contribute to. The goal is to generate a sense of purpose and being linked to their area, and the more activities they have going on, the less the emotional strain on you as a child to support them. There’s a world of classes and events tailored to seniors out there.
Get The Basics Delivered
The internet is your friend in terms of ensuring that all your parents’ basic needs are met. It’s important to maintain a healthy eating regime as we age, but getting to the shops can be challenging, so an online meal plan or grocery delivery service can be a real help. Repeat prescription medicines or supplements can also be filled by recurring order and delivered to their door. You can help to support by making arrangements to help ensure they will never be without an essential item. Even something as simple as a magazine subscription can brightening their post and make sure they are entertained when you can’t be there.
Taking Care of Health Needs
Even simple health conditions can get complex and hard to manage as we age, so a regular review of requirements is a way that you can support. There are medicines to take and perhaps blood tests or urine tests required as part of complex outpatient care. If you have set them up with a smartphone, download an app that can remind them when to take their medicines, and help them to use online booking systems for doctors’ appointments. If you come to a point where they need ongoing home health care, make sure you research all the options to find the best fit for their individual needs. Having the reassurance that they have access to 24/7 medical care if required can make an enormous difference to both your lives.
A Comfortable Home
Our homes are our havens, but it’s important to recognise that they have to adapt to suit our needs, so take the time to review your parents living situations and make any necessary changes. Start with the areas that commonly provide hazards – the kitchen, the bathroom and the bedroom. Often simple changes like installing grab rails, rearranging and streamlining the furniture so that it’s easier for them to move around, putting anti-slip mats down, making sure the lighting is adequate and lowering high shelves so that things are easily accessible is all it takes. You may also want to consider some form of advanced home security system to give added peace of mind – you can get systems that you will be able to remotely monitor as well as letting your parents feel more secure.
With new technologies improving all the time, the prospect of independent living isn’t so difficult as it once was. The decision to lead a fulfilling and self-determined life is more of a reality than ever, so looking forward to the future just got easier!