How to Help Your Parent as They Age

Your parents will change as they get older. Their physical abilities may diminish, making it harder for them to complete tasks that they used to without a second thought. Their cognition could also decline, leading to symptoms like memory loss and sudden mood swings. The changes could feel like a slow transition or like you blinked, and then everything was different.

You’re going to have to adjust to these changes for the sake of your parents. But how? Here are some of the things you can do over time to make sure that they’re okay.

Consider Their Living Situation

Your parents’ home may not be conducive for “ageing in place” — this means being able to grow old without having to move for better accommodations. A lot of houses and apartments are not built with ageing in mind. They have steep staircases. They have no ramps or wide hallways for mobility aids like wheelchairs or walkers. They have high shelving units and countertops. These features make the house inconvenient and often inaccessible.

Improve Their Home

If your parents are determined to stay in their current home, you should encourage them to get elder-friendly renovations to make their home more accessible, safe and comfortable as they get older. These home improvements may feel like overkill at first, but you’ll be happy that you took the initiative early on before you have to worry about dangerous slips and falls.

Pick a Community

If your parents are open to moving, you should start looking up retirement homes. Top-quality retirement homes encourage an independent lifestyle for your parents with their spacious suites, exciting amenities and social activities. When they don’t need much attention and care, the senior living facility will feel like an incredible apartment complex.

The facility offers more care options as residents age, and their needs change. So, you can adjust your parents’ memberships to require assisted living care, full care, or memory care. Having these options available makes a retirement community a great spot to age in place.

Don’t Act the Parent

Since your parents will depend on you for help, it may feel like you’ve experienced a huge role reversal. You cook meals for them. You drive them around everywhere. You buy their things and check-in on them. As much as it feels like you’re parenting your parents, you shouldn’t act like it:

  • One of the most important rules of communicating with elderly parents is to not be patronizing or speak to them like they are a child (“elderspeak”).
  • Try to remain calm, collected, and respectful with your parents, even when they are being frustrating or irrational.
  • Do more than help with errands and responsibilities. Spend time with them for fun. Have afternoon tea with them, plan game nights, go for walks together, etc. You’re more than a caregiver — you’re their child. They will want your company.

Watching your parents get older and need more help is a challenge. But, as you can see from this list, you can step up to this challenge and make sure that they are happy, no matter their age.