There’s nothing more frustrating than struggling to accomplish tasks you once found easy. And if you’re the child of an ageing parent, chances are you’re also starting to feel frustrated at your parents’ own frustrations with themselves.
Ageing makes simple tasks harder
When we age, we become slower, our fine motor skills start to deteriorate, we can forget important things we’re usually good at remembering (like the birthday of a grandchild, or which drawer you keep the baking trays in), and we might even start to lose our hearing. And when our bodies and brains change in this way, it can feel easy to give up and become agitated with ourselves and the people around us.
It’s our job – as the children of ageing parents – to help our elderly parents remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible. Here are our top recommendations for keeping your parents feeling empowered and independent during their golden years and beyond.
Why is it important for my ageing parents to feel independent?
One of our biggest pieces of advice in this realm is to never underestimate the power of independent living. Being able to rely on yourself when it comes to day-to-day living and completing both mundane and exciting tasks is incredibly empowering. It provides us with a sense of purpose, ultimately boosting our state of mind and wellbeing. When we lose our independence, our mood can plummet and our desire to take care of ourselves, try new things or socialise (amongst other activities) can diminish.
Top tips for empowering your parents to maintain their independence
1. Meal preparation assistance
Are they starting to resent the kitchen? Maybe they’re struggling to reach the highest shelves of their pantry, or can’t bend down to seek out their fry pan. Regardless of what they’re struggling with in the kitchen, there are a range of services available to help our parent(s) out when it comes to meal preparation and nutrition. Chat to them about what they need help with, and then search around for some in-home help.
2. Add practical aids into their home
If they’re starting to get a little clumsier, have had a fall or two, or are struggling to walk up the stairs, consider sourcing practical aids that you can install into their home to make things a little easier and safer for them. From chair lifts to shower seats and handles, or even simply moving furniture around to make their living room easier to navigate, there are a range of ways you can make their home a little more secure and safe.
3. Encourage them to exercise
Exercise isn’t just about building the dream six-pack or developing calves of steel – it’s also essential for our mind, mood and helping us function at our optimum. Studies have also shown that staying active can help our memory, too. When our parents are able to maintain their physical strength and flexibility, they’ll likely remain a little more independent, for longer, as they’ll be able to continue doing things they might not otherwise have had the strength to.
It’s worth looking around on local council websites to seek out exercise and strength classes for seniors. Not only are regular classes a great way for them to remain accountable and consistent with their exercise, but group classes can be a wonderful social activity, too.
4. Socialise, socialise, socialise
Hanging out with friends keeps our brain sharp and prevents loneliness and isolation (which is common amongst the elderly). Encourage your parent(s) to spend time with friends on a regular basis, or even host a group activity once a week (like a game of Bridge, book club, or coffee club). It can also be incredibly comforting for them to feel as though they’re ageing alongside friends. Being able to share experiences with one another can be empowering, and can remind your loved ones that they aren’t alone as they get older.
5. Allow them to take the lead
While it’s sometimes tough to step back and let your ageing parents take care of themselves (when they clearly need a little extra support), it’s important you allow them to take the lead. Let them know you’re there to assist – or that you can find someone to help them out on a regular basis – should they need an extra set of hands. If they choose to keep challenging themselves to be as independent as possible – that’s great! Allow them to keep trying, and be patient with them while they do so. The best way to encourage your parents to remain independent is to allow them to be independent… especially if they’re asking you to.
If your elderly parent needs support in certain areas – for example, they require someone to drive them to weekly appointments as they are no longer able to drive – isolate those areas and seek out an individual or service that can help them in that space. Sometimes the best way to maintain their independent living is to ensure they don’t lose their independence in areas they’re okay with managing themselves! If they don’t need help with cooking dinner, it might not be the best idea to provide them with cooking help. Chat to them, brainstorm with them, and listen to them. When your parents feel heard, they’ll likely cooperate with you to find themselves the support they need, when they need it.
One part of supporting ageing parents might be assisting them to get their affairs in order. When it comes to writing a legal Will or prepaying a funeral to save time, money and stress, let the team at Willed help. For more information visit willed.com.au or phone 1300 945 533.