Have you ever paged through an old photo album, to find pictures of your parents when they were your age, or perhaps even younger? It can be amazing to see what your elderly loved ones looked like when they were young adults – and it can be absolutely incredible to see all the active things that they did in their youth!
Marching in a parade, building your childhood bedroom by hand, chasing after the family dog, playing music with friends – it can be remarkable to look back at your senior loved one’s life in snapshots.
As your parents grow older, one of your biggest goals as a family caregiver might be to encourage them to continue to live an active, engaged, and independent lifestyle – to help them continue to live the fulfilling and full lives they lived in those photos!
As a loving family caregiver, what can you do to help your senior parents to age in place while still enjoying themselves and living life as independently as possible? Here are four key ways you can help your parents to remain independent as they get older:
Empower Them to Live More Healthfully
For many older adults, physical health is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to living independently.
Our bodies change as we age, and many older adults experience more limited mobility, chronic aches and pains, and changes to their hearing or eyesight over time, all of which can make it more difficult to go through life with total independence.
As a supportive family member, one of the best ways to help your aging parents keep their independence is to encourage them to stay on top of their health and well-being – starting as early as possible. The healthier your parents are able to remain with time, the better the odds that they’ll be able to age in place safely, comfortably, and independently.
As a family member, you can empower your aging loved ones to live healthier lifestyles by:
- Encouraging them to regularly visit their doctors
- Helping them stay on top of their medications
- Encouraging healthy habits, like exercising regularly and practicing proper nutrition
It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to be alone in helping your aging parents pick up and maintain their healthy habits!
A professional senior companion or caregiver can help fill in when you need some time away, and can be there for your senior loved one in many different ways – from helping to serve as a fitness buddy; to providing reliable transportation to doctor’s appointments or exercise classes; to offering medicine reminders; to helping the senior to shop, prep, and share delicious and healthy meals.
Connect Your Senior Loved One With Driving Services
For many older adults, the day that they realize that they should stop getting behind the wheel can be an incredibly difficult one. It can be tough for loving family members, too. In a recent survey, nearly 40% of respondents said that the hardest conversation they have had with their aging parents has been about giving up driving.
For older adults, it can be upsetting to lose the freedom to drive anywhere, at any time. For many seniors, this transition comes a major blow, as they see losing the ability to drive as a clipping of their wings, and a major check placed on their independence.
In practical terms, it can be difficult to adapt, as well. Getting around can be a lot trickier without reliable access to transportation. According to one study, about half of all Americans 65 and older say that they do not have any access to public transportation. Of those who are 65 or older who cannot or do not drive, about half say that they feel forced to “stay at home” in a given day because “they don’t have transportation options.”
As a supportive child, one of the most effective ways to help your parents maintain their independence is to help them find new ways to get around. In particular, many older adults benefit from having the reliable, flexible option of a senior companion, who can provide driving services to a variety of events and activities, including:
- Doctor’s appointments
- Social gatherings
- Religious events
- Community events
- Day trips and outings
- Running errands
Having access to reliable transportation options can help empower seniors to go out, be a part of their community, enjoy themselves, and create new memories. With a senior companion as part of your caregiving network, you can rest assured that your mom or dad will be able to keep up the active schedule they want, all while their friendly companion provides fun conversation, support, and assistance when necessary.
Safeguard Their Home
According to research from the AARP, about 90% of older adults would prefer to stay in their own homes as they age, for as long as possible. As a family caregiver, you probably want to help your loved one stay in the comfort and safety of their own home. This is a good instinct! Indeed, studies have shown that aging in place can help increase longevity and promote greater independence for seniors, while also being significantly less expensive than institutionalized care options.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that you may need to take some time to help your parents update and adapt their home, so it’s a better fit with their needs over time. Remember that the homes that we love can prove hazardous when we least expect it, especially for seniors.
To help embolden your parents to live comfortably and securely at home, help them make some necessary changes to their home environment. Paying close attention to your senior loved one’s safety needs now could make all the difference down the line. There are many different ways you can help your parents to safeguard their home, including:
- Helping them to declutter
- Getting rid of tripping hazards and obstacles
- Updating their smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, security systems, and other alarms
- Adding safety features – such as grab bars or supports – in the bathroom, stairwells, and other areas where falls are common
- Help them rearrange their home to suit their needs (such as reorganizing the kitchen so their favorite cooking tools are in reach, or relocating the master bedroom downstairs)
- Adding extra lighting
- Installing ramps, as necessary
- Helping create a labeling and organizing system for medicines, food, important paperwork, and more
Over time, a senior companion or caregiver can assist in some major ways. A companion can help provide your parent with assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), including sitting and standing, moving from room to room, grooming, and so on. A companion can also help your parents keep up with their day-to-day housekeeping duties, to help ensure their home is always clean, safe, and welcoming.
Encourage Them to Remain Social
Helping your parents to stay connected and social as they age is one of the most important ways you can help them maintain their independence, and keep up their overall health and well-being.
Over the years, various studies have illustrated just how important maintaining close personal relationships can be for older adults. Research suggests that older adults who maintain fulfilling bonds live longer, experience better mental health, have fewer chronic health conditions, and practice healthier habits than those who feel more disconnected or isolated.
To help your aging loved ones maintain their health and independence with time, encourage them to continue to stay involved in their community – and make it as easy as possible for them to keep up their social lives! In many cases, this is going to mean helping your loved one get out and see people, whether by helping them go for a walk around the neighborhood, or driving them to a card game, volunteer opportunity, religious group, or so on. In other cases, it’s going to mean helping bring a feeling of community home to your parents, by encouraging them to host guests, arranging visits from family members, or helping them connect with friends and neighbors nearby.
A companion can help your loved one to stay social in many different ways! For one thing, a companion can help provide crucial transportation to events, meetings, and community gatherings, while also helping to provide support to your senior loved one at parties or family functions, when you may need to put your attention elsewhere.
Day to day, a companion can also help bring sunshine and company into your senior loved one’s home. A companion can step in and spend valuable time with your mom or dad by playing games, sharing meals, going for walks, swapping stories, and generally being involved as a friendly, familiar, and trustworthy presence.
Companions for Seniors Can Help
At Companions for Seniors, we believe that support and friendship can help empower the elderly to live life independently in the comfort and safety of home, without having to uproot and move into expensive, institutional care.
We provide companionship and care for seniors, and can help create a flexible, personalized plan designed to support your aging loved one, while also giving you back time to rest and recharge. All of our companions are trained and boned, and can provide a variety of services designed to help your parent live independently, including offering driving services, assisting with ADLs, helping with housekeeping, preparing meals, and so much more.
Our mission is to help seniors to maintain a higher quality of life physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We’ll help the older adult in your life to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, by connecting them with their community and nurturing meaningful relationships. As an independent and locally owned caregiving company, we believe in fostering an open dialogue and sharing ideas; always going the extra mile with our services; and providing flexible care at the right price for every family’s needs.
Do you have a loved one who you believe could benefit from non-medical home care? Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 866-910-9020, or get in touch online to get the conversation started.