The United States has a population of approximately 47 million seniors.
While senior individuals and old parents find themselves in a vulnerable position, it is not always possible for them to get consistent, dedicated care. However, a large segment of the elderly population are capable of functioning independently when equipped with the right tools and information. It’s simply a matter of empowering them with what they need.
If that’s what you want for your parents or seniors in your life, here are a few tips you need to keep in mind.
1. The Health Factor
One of the biggest factors that get in the way of someone’s independence is their health. This is particularly true of older parents who are more susceptible to illnesses and ailments.
Encourage your parents to follow healthy diets and get in their regular dose of exercise. Additionally, make sure they are aware of any medications they are on, and that they have the discipline to take them when needed. If memory is an issue, you can always arrange for a daily reminder on their smartphones or teach them to use apps specifically created for seniors.
2. Safety Is Key
Another important consideration while discussing independence is safety. You want to make sure that no matter where they live, their houses or apartments are protected by alarms and other safety precautions.
Set up a house monitor and ensure that if necessary they have the means to contact you or the police in emergencies. Similarly, smoke detectors, fire alarms, and access to on-call ambulances are also important.
3. Transportation for the Elderly
Mobility is another important aspect of independence with the elderly. Public transport may not be ideal and they may not have the means or physical ability to drive themselves around. Instead, consider opting for alternative senior transportation services that are dedicated to serving the elderly.
This is a great way to allow them to be in control of their movement and enjoy an unrestricted life of freedom. It’ll allow them to socialize more, take trips to the grocery and navigate their own lives instead of relying on someone else’s schedule and conveniences for the things they want to do.
4. Communication Is Essential
You need to make sure that the lines of communication between you and your parents are completely open. Independence is not about never needing someone, and they should be able to ask you for help when they need it.
Mutual trust will allow your parents to know that they can rely on you if necessary, and it also gives you the peace of mind in knowing that they’re safe. No matter how independent they are, be sure to check in with them every now and then to let them know that you care.
5. Keep Them Engaged
Being mentally and physically engaged is an important aspect of a senior’s life. A senior who spends time engaging their brains with intellectually stimulating stimuli are less likely to feel lonely and unfulfilled.
Things like puzzles, books and engaging in enjoyable hobbies go a long way in making seniors less dependant on the people around them. If they can keep themselves entertained, they’ll be more content on rainy days where there are minimal opportunities for social interaction.
6. Maintaining a Healthy Social Life
Most people need other people. This is something that’s true for a 9-year-old as much as a 90-year-old. Of course, the degree to which we need people is definitely subjective, however, we do need them.
While your older individuals may have their own set of friends who they like to interact with, some may not. In these cases, it is important to ensure that they have access to senior centers, mixers and other meeting grounds for older people. Some older people may also find it fulfilling to take up volunteer work or other charity work.
Others may benefit from a pet dog or a similar furry companion.
7. Financial Considerations
What’s independence without financial independence, right?
If your parents don’t have a good retirement plan to lean back on, the financial burden might be on you. Even so, if independence is your goal, you would want to make sure that they have free reign over at least some amount of their money.
8. Accessible Therapy for Old Parents
Mental health is often a neglected consideration for aging parents. Loneliness, paranoia, anxiety, and depression can set in at any stage of your life. However, you can fix this by making sure your parents get the help they need for any issues they might be facing.
Isolation, excessive worry, negative self-talk, irritation or low self-esteem can all be signs that your parent is suffering.
If you sense that something is wrong, it might be time to find them a psychologist who specializes in senior therapy. Some therapists even make house visits, which would allow your parents to make meaningful progress in the comfort of their own homes.
Helping Your Parents Embrace the Aging Process
Helping your old parents embrace the aging process should be at the root of what you do. Not only will it empower them, but they’ll just be happier in general. It will allow them to make the most of the rest of their lives.
Help them find the beauty and wisdom that comes with aging and get them one step closer to contentment.
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