Friday, 16 July 2021

8 Ways to Help your Ageing Parents

Photo by James Hose Jr on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}


It's a reality for many of us, our parents are getting older and for some their health is starting to deteriorate and maybe you even now feel like the adult in the relationship. Your parents ageing and changing can be a difficult and painful process, especially if something like Alzheimer's or dementia plays a part.

Your parents will have played a large part in your life, helping you through adolescence, assisting you as you leave their home and set up your own home, maybe babysitting your kids and being a\a source of love and wisdom throughout your life. Now, it is time for the tables to turn and for you to be a support to them. However, it is really important to offer this support and care in the right way, as you want them to maintain their dignity and feel in control of their own decisions.

Here are eight ways you can help your ageing parents -

1. Be respectful

This is so important, they're still your parents and they won't want to be treated like children, even if their mental capacity is diminishing you still need to ask permission to undertake any of the tasks you'd like to help them with.

2.  Listen to them

Very similar to number one, make sure you listen to the wishes of your parents. Don't take over and start making choices for them if they have the capacity to do so. Let them take the lead and tell you what they need, how they want your help etc. Their choices may not be what you would do but what does it matter if what they are choosing is safe and affordable? It's still their life, they're just getting older. 

3. Give them your time

Then as well as listening to their wishes, give them the time so you can listen to their hearts, to their stories, to the past. Just before my Nan passed away I went to stay with her for a long weekend and it will be a treasured memory for me forever as she talked to me all about her past. About growing up and looking after her siblings, meeting my grandad, bringing up my mum and her sisters. It was wonderful to hear so many of these tales and there were some my mum had never heard before too. 

4.  Adapt their home


From a practical point of view, there may be adjustments that need to be made to make their home suitable for them to continue living in. Whether it is a stairlift or walk-in shower Age UK Mobility can help. There are so many small changes that can be made in the home to help, such as changing bulbs to brighter ones to make reading easier, buying large clock faces, putting in a ramp at the door, adding a bannister or lowering a kitchen work surface. 

You may also want to talk to your parents about setting up a safety net, like getting an emergency call button or rope installed. Or maybe buying them a wearable medical alert system.

Image Credit: Age UK Mobility


5.  Help them downsize if they'd like to


The family home may not prove to be the best home as your parents get older, or maybe it is just too big for them now. It would be such a blessing to help them find a new home that suits their needs better, maybe a bungalow or assisted living flat. My Nan lived in a wonderful complex as she got older with communal rooms and activities, but she was still independent and lived alone. Make sure you investigate all options, don't make assumptions, actually have a look around different options. 

6.  Sort through the loft/ shed/ garage


I'm hopeful that my parents are not going anywhere for a long time yet but my Dad is already on a mission to sort out and clear down all the areas in their home where things have been stored and hoarded for the last forty years. You can help your parents to sort through their belongings and ensure that they are only keeping the things they use and those that bring them joy. I know this can be a very hard job as my friend's parents are downsizing currently and she has been house sorting with them for months now. 

7.  Get on top of the paperwork


Most people don't like having to think about future eventualities like losing a loved one or losing their health but they are realities of life and as you get older they become more timely, so offer to help your parents get all their paperwork and financial affairs in order. Have they got a current will? Have they got a living will recording their wishes? Are all the essential details gathered together - like bank details, property deeds, shares, insurance, life insurance, pensions etc?

8.  Seek their wisdom/ advice


Then lastly we go back to where we started and it is so important to remember that these are your parents and they love you and still wish to nurture you. When you have something going on in your life and you need a listening ear, or you need some advice go and ask your parents. It may be that you don't take their advice and that's OK, but it will be worth so much to them that you trusted them and wanted to spend that time seeking the benefit of their years of life experience. 


I hope you've found these tips useful and you are able to use them to maintain a great relationship with your parents. 


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