As your parents get older, there is likely to be a shift in your roles, and they may require your help to stay healthy and happy. Knowing how to care for aging parents can be a challenge, and they might resist your assistance. You should focus on supporting your parents in any way you can while still maintaining their freedom and independence. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help your parents maintain good health and well-being as they get older. Here are five tips to help aging parents stay healthy and happy:
1. Encourage them to be active
Many seniors lead more sedentary lifestyles as they get older and have low activity levels. According to familydoctor.com, “seniors aged 65 and over should do a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate activity or 1.5 hours of vigorous exercise a week.” Being active helps seniors stay limber and fight off age-related illnesses such as high blood pressure and arthritis. Regular exercise is also a great way for seniors to get outdoors, reduce stress, and meet new people.
Offering to exercise together can be a great way to encourage your aging parents to be more active. You could go on family walks at the weekends, sign up for group fitness classes, or do active hobbies like bowling or swimming. Make sure that you choose an exercise that will suit your parent’s fitness levels and interests. Exercising together will boost your fitness levels and can also be a great way to bond with your parents and build a closer relationship.
You can also motivate your parents to be more active by helping them to develop an exercise plan and set realistic fitness goals. Encourage your parents to take an interest in their fitness and explain to them the importance that exercise plays in healthy aging.
2. Discuss their care needs
Most people require some level of assistance as they get older. You may notice that an aging parent is starting to struggle with daily activities of living such as cooking, cleaning, or driving. You should openly discuss your parent’s care needs as they get older and offer to support them if and when they need help.
If an aging parent is struggling to live alone, then it might be time to discuss the benefits of moving to a senior living community. A senior living community will provide the specialist support that your aging parent needs to remain healthy and happy. If your parent requires support with their daily activities, then assisted living is likely to be the best option. Your parent can also choose independent living communities if they would prefer a hands-off environment. You should research assisted living vs independent living and choose the best senior community for your aging parent based on their needs and preferences.
3. Suggest healthy recipes
Nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining good health at any age. Eating a nutrient-rich diet will keep your parent’s energy levels up and help them stick to a healthy weight. MedlinePlus states that “good nutrition can also help to preventing falls some diseases, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.”
Many elderly people find it more difficult to eat a balanced diet. This may be due to a lack of interest in food or a low appetite. Health conditions and mobility issues can also make it more difficult for seniors to plan and prepare healthy meals. You can improve your parent’s nutrition by suggesting healthy recipes that are full of fresh foods. Take a look at this article by A Place For Mom for ideas for quick and healthy recipes for seniors. You can also show your parents how to find healthy recipes online using search engines and food blogs.
If your aging parents are struggling to prepare home-cooked meals, then you could offer to drop food round if you live nearby. You could also make healthy eating easier for them by offering to do their weekly grocery shop or helping them plan simple meals for the week.
4. Stay in regular contact
Senior loneliness is common, and it can have a hugely damaging effect on an older person’s physical and mental health. One of the best ways for you to help your aging parents stay healthy and happy is by staying in regular contact. Make an effort to check how your parents are doing and take an interest in their lives.
If you live nearby, then try to pop in once a week, even if it’s only for a quick cup of tea and a chat. If you live in a different city or state, then you can schedule regular phone calls and video calls to communicate with your parents. A family messaging app like Family Talk can be downloaded so that you and your parents can stay in regular contact.
You should also try to arrange family events and get your parents involved in the planning. Staying in regular contact with your parents can strengthen your family ties and have a huge impact on their health and overall quality of life.
5. Remove home safety hazards
Houses are full of potential safety hazards, and many seniors have accidents and injuries in their homes. Senior falls and trips are extremely common, and you should take steps to create a safer living environment for your aging parents. You can make your parent’s home more senior-friendly by removing clutter and tripping hazards, adding anti-slip flooring, and installing mobility aids like handrails and supports. You could also install a safety alarm that your aging parents can press in an emergency.
If your aging parents need support staying healthy and happy, then you may be unsure how to help. Determining how best to support elderly parents can be difficult, particularly if they like to be independent. Luckily, there are dozens of ways to help your parents and improve their lifestyle while still maintaining their independence. The above tips will help you support aging parents and boost their health and happiness.