Contributed by Lizzie Weakley
According to a major survey by the AARP, 87% of seniors want to remain in their home and neighborhood as they age rather than moving into an assisted living or senior living community. There are many ways you can help your parents age at home while maintaining safety and quality of life. Here are five ways you can make their day-to-day life easier, safer, and happier.
Remind Them They’re Needed
Everyone wants to feel needed and useful. Many seniors have a great fear of becoming a burden to loved ones, and this fear may be realized when they can no longer care for themselves completely and need help from their children. You can improve your parents’ mental health and reinforce that they are still needed by asking for help with tasks that match their abilities. For example, ask for help cooking dinner or folding laundry. This will help your parents feel that they are still contributing to the family.
Help Them Stay Connected
Seniors are at a high risk of becoming isolated for many reasons, including an inability to drive and mobility issues. Seniors who are isolated are at a higher risk of depression and dementia. The importance of helping your parents stay connected with friends, family, and the community can’t be understated.
Arrange for outings for your parents, have family come to visit, and make sure they aren’t alone for celebrations and holidays. You can also arrange for transportation to and from church, community events, and senior centers in the area. Encourage your parents to find a new hobby or volunteer their time.
Invest in New Household Tools
Your parents may have difficulty performing many basic tasks due to reduced strength and mobility issues. Many of these challenges can be overcome with the right tool, however. A secure stepladder with wide, slip-resistant treads can make household chores easier and safer for seniors with balance problems. Daily living aids can also give the elderly easy solutions to perform tasks like putting on shoes and opening jars.
Home Renovations for Mobility Issues
If your parents have trouble getting around, it’s probably worth it to invest in home renovations that will make their home safer and easier to use. For a two-story home, consider a stair lift like All-Star Lifts. These lifts make a two-story home just as convenient as a ranch-style home for aging in place and eliminate the risk of potentially deadly falls on the stairs.
Watch for Signs of Depression
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression affects about 6.5 million seniors in the United States. Unfortunately, depression in elderly people is often unrecognized and untreated for many reasons, including the fact that it’s often viewed as a normal sign of aging. Many older adults also view depression as a character flaw and feel too ashamed to get help.
Watch for symptoms of depression that may include vague complaints of pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, social withdrawal, memory problems, irritability, slow movement, and demanding behavior.
These are only a handful of ways you can improve the lives of your parents as they age at home. Whether you are living with your parents as a caregiver or only living nearby, remember to check in often, stay connected, and help them make the most of their golden years by eliminating as many safety hazards and challenges in the home as possible.