Nobody tells you how overwhelmingly heartbreaking it can be to accept that your parents are getting older. After all, you always saw them as two strong, independent pillars with plenty of vitality and power. Whether it was household chores, work commitments, or simply organizing family get-togethers, they managed every task with such ease and grace that you never imagined them aging.
However, when you look at them now, you realize how their once tireless energy is diminishing, and they need help with simple things that they would have handled without much effort earlier. The lines on their faces are more pronounced, and a little stoop has replaced their rock-solid posture. Perhaps the twinkle in their eyes is clouded with concern, and their jolliness a little dulled by the exhaustion of age. Apart from the physical changes, you may also experience their cognitive abilities declining, and they may be more forgetful than before. All these are natural signs of aging and your cue to start caring for your parents more.
Here are some tips to help ensure your aging parents continue to remain healthy and age gracefully:
- Schedule Routine Doctor Visits
No matter how healthy your parents look, taking them for a regular checkup is essential to ensure optimum health. It’s especially crucial for individuals who worked in an industry or occupation where they may have been exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos exposure is linked to a rare type of cancer called mesothelioma, and it might take years for the symptoms to manifest. Hence, regular tests, scans, and checkups can help identify health issues at early stages and increase the chances of successful treatment.
If your parents are diagnosed with mesothelioma, they may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced lawyer at lawfirm.com to understand your rights and get the financial help your family deserves to help cover medical costs and other related expenses.
- Help them Exercise
You might have heard that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind – and it’s true. Exercise has immense benefits for older adults, such as improving their physical and mental health, reducing stress levels, preventing age-related diseases, and increasing mobility.
Even though your parents may not be able to engage in strenuous workouts, they can still do simple exercises like walking or stretching. You can also help them with breathing exercises, gentle yoga poses, or chair aerobics to help them maintain their physical fitness.
- Connect Them with Their Loved Ones
Communication and companionship are essential for healthy aging. Otherwise, your parents may start to feel left out or lonely. They might even isolate themselves from family and friends, which can negatively affect their mental well-being.
So, encourage them to stay in touch with their loved ones while being mindful of their safety. If they’re tech-savvy enough, help them set up video calls for a weekly catchup or audio calls to chat with their older family members. You can also help them join a club or volunteer group. It will allow them to meet and make new friends.
If traveling is not an issue, plan a family trip so that your parents can spend time with the entire family.
- Monitor Their Diet
As we age, our nutritional requirements change. For instance, older adults require more calcium and Vitamin D for bone health and protein for muscle health.
So, considering your parents’ nutritional needs, plan a balanced diet with whole grains, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and proteins. Choose foods that are high in fiber for better digestion, and make sure they avoid salty and processed food. You can also whip up delicious smoothies with different flavors and nutritious ingredients to ensure they get all the vitamins and minerals.
If you’re unsure about what to include or exclude in your parents’ diet due to certain health issues, speak to a dietitian and explore meal-planning options to manage their food choices better.
- Promote Mental Stimulation
Forgetfulness, confusion, slower thinking, and difficulty making decisions all come with aging. That’s why mental stimulation is as essential for your parents as physical exercise.
But how do you keep your parents mentally active?
Reading books, solving puzzles, playing word or number games, and painting are some activities that can help sharpen their minds and improve their cognitive skills.
If your parents enjoy art and music, you can take them to art exhibitions and music performances. Listening to melodies, playing an instrument, or simply singing opens up creative pathways and helps improve their thinking skills.
- Modify the Home Environment
This is often the most critical yet overlooked step in healthy aging. You realize your parents don’t have the agility and strength they used to, so you must modify their home environment to ensure their safety and comfort.
You can start by removing any unnecessary furniture or any large obstacles that stand in the way. Place non-slip mats on the bathroom floors and the kitchen to avoid falls. Install grab bars in the bathrooms near the toilet and tub and other areas of the home, like staircases or hallways, to provide support.
Ensure the lighting is sufficient for them to move around without any difficulty. If your parents use wheelchairs, modify their home to ensure easy and safe access.
- Look After Your Parents’ Finances
Since older adults are more prone to fraud and financial scams, it is crucial to ensure your parents’ safety when it comes to their finances. You can do so by monitoring their bank accounts frequently for any suspicious activities.
If your parents have invested in any retirement savings or other financial plans, review these regularly with them and advise them on how best to manage their income. Ensure their bills, taxes, and insurance payments are paid on time.
You can also create a budget to help them manage their expenses.
Aging is a reality that many of us aren’t prepared for, but it’s an inevitable part of life. The roles gradually reverse, from your parents taking care of you to you taking care of them. And while it may not be easy, you can do your best to ensure their safety and well-being by ensuring they exercise regularly, eat healthily, and never miss their regular checkups.
Home safety is also critical for older adults, so you must modify your parents’ home environment to prevent falls or other injuries. Managing your parents’ finances and encouraging them to stay socially active are other essential ways to help them age healthily and enjoy their retirement years.