Life can sometimes feel like it’s all about juggling. You have your job, your marriage, social commitments, kids to look after, budgets to make work, and all kinds of other responsibilities. And as your parents age, they can become part of the list of things that need looking after. Many of us struggle with the shift in responsibilities that comes with this, but there is also a feeling of needing to step up to the plate. At the same time, it can be another lot of tasks to fit into a life that is already overflowing.
So, how best can you support your aging parents without being intrusive?
See Their Viewpoint
It won’t always be smooth sailing – sometimes you’ll find dealing with elderly parents to be frustrating, as they may reject your well-meaning assistance or make demands at other times.
It’s important to remember your empathy and communication skills. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Aging can often be seen as a loss – employment, health, energy levels, friends, independence.
That can be tough to come to terms with for some people, so try to tread gently.
Introduce Them To Technology
Technology really can do a huge amount to improve the quality of life for us as we age, but many of our parents haven’t grown up with tech and never really bothered to learn.
Help them to use things which may enhance their lives – from teaching them to use video calling to stay in touch with distant relatives, to helping them set up their grocery order online to be delivered, set up a prescription for any medications they need or even find favourite podcasts that they may want to listen to.
There are also games to play on phones and tablets that help to guard against cognitive decline. So have a think about what you could support them with.
Keep It Safe
As we age, the home environment generally requires some adaptations to continue to be suitable for us.
It may be that moving to a property without stairs is something your parents need to consider, or if they have a larger property that is getting unmanageable, a smaller apartment or house could be more suitable.
However, your parents may not always see it that way! If they are reluctant to leave their home, you could do a property risk assessment instead.
Even small things like getting cable tidies so there aren’t trailing wires, fitting grab bars and anti-slip mats in the bath or shower, and ensuring their hvac system is properly serviced and smoke alarms are all working can be a big help.
Often aging parents can struggle with loneliness and feeling left out of family life.
Make the effort to visit and call as much as you can, and set up some things which involve them in the fabric of family life, such as having them read a bedtime story to kids on a Sunday, or asking them to pass on a skill.Your children will gain a lot from having an active relationship with their grandparents.