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Taking care of your aging parents who want to stay independently

22 January, 2018

, senior care

One day, our parents won't be able to drive, to climb stairs, or maybe even change their own clothes or feed themselves. As painful as thinking about this might be, we need to prepare to help them be comfortable and safe in the autumn of their lives.

Sadly, they could one day be fine and then suddenly the next day need a great amount of care, so the more prepared we are in advance, the less stressful this might be for the whole family.

To understand if the parents might need added help, observe them for changes in their habits. Look for warning signs in the following:

  • Eating Habits – are they able to still cook for themselves? Do they stock their fridge with healthy foods?
  • Hygiene – Is the house not as clean as you remember? Is there too much clutter? Are they bathing and changing their clothes like they used to? Are they neglecting their nails and teeth?
  • Forgetfulness – a good indicator would be repeated questions, forgetting events, constantly forgetting where they have left glasses etc.
  • Support system – Have they increased dependency on maids and guards for getting essential items for the house. Are they relying on people who are not always dependable or available?
  • Engagementchanges in what they like to do, developing a more sedentary lifestyle. Any changes in what they looking forward to doing? Are these more essential activities instead of fun activities? Are they making excuses when there is an opportunity for stepping out?

In case you start getting negative answers, time has come to start think of a support structure for them.  Your parents may be quite independent today, but one day an event might happen.

A good first step–before a crisis arises–is to hold family meetings with your parent, spouse, siblings so everyone can share their views and help decide how best to proceed. Many of us find that as our parents age, they’re more likely to need assistance to carry out everyday activities.  Expect your parents & your siblings to be reluctant to have this talk.

Depending on your family, this could be a very heated conversation, a very quiet one, or maybe one that drags out every emotion you have. Whatever you do, listen.

Okay, so what do you need to discuss?  Here are five things to consider when elderly parents choose to live home alone:

1. Essential Needs Delivered to the Door

Healthy eating is an essential component in ensuring physical and emotional well being. Basic needs like groceries and medicine refills need to be delivered to the door.

2. Preparing the Home

The home in which they reside should be a safe haven. Hazards may arise in key areas like the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Some common and basic changes include: Installing grab bars and anti-skid tapes to support them when they walk through the house and avoid unexpected slips and falls, lowering shelves in the kitchen so they can easily access items, adding more lighting and removing floor hazards.

3. Ensuring Health Care Measures

The daily task of taking medicines or checking blood sugar levels, which may seem inconsequential when there’s no one there to remind you, but healthy seniors must focus on the maintenance for their good health. Extra support in encouraging them to be proactive in the maintenance of their health essential.

It is very important to understand their medical needs, including how frequently doctors’ appointments should occur, and how to implement a low-intensity exercise regimen. Using mobile health tools like pill organizers can help alleviate some of the tasks on your end, since they remind patients to take their medicine, or you can use a calendar app to track and anticipate upcoming doctors’ appointments. Ultimately, it’s important to remain sensitive to changes in their health, to help monitor when independently living is no longer the best option.

4. In Case of an Emergency

One of the biggest concern when their elderly loved ones are home alone, what happens if no one is present to help assist when there is an emergency.

When falls and acute medical events (such as heart attacks or strokes) occur, each second that passes matters. Technology to monitor, backed with professional on ground support is required in such situations.

5. Addressing Emotional Needs

Many elderly parents want to demonstrate their ability to continue managing their own lives, but the need for sincere companionship still exists — even among those living with a spouse. Feelings of loneliness can have health consequences among the elderly.

Also, keep in mind that seniors are accustomed to leading productive lives, as are you, and their days should involve hobbies and engaging activities. Help them join a senior community and regularly join its activities. It’s all about finding ways to help nourish a sense of belonging and purpose, which is something we all need!

Caring for an aging parent who is living independently can be challenging, but by partnering with Samarth Care (www.samarth.community), you can help them enjoy the best quality of life and maintain their independence for as long as possible. Our trained, certified and experienced caregivers will support them and keep you informed so you’ll have peace-of-mind that he or she is being cared for in the loving way you would care for them yourself.

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