As a young or middle-aged adult, your aging parents start to become more and more of a concern. Will they be able to take care of themselves, or will they have to move out of their home and into yours or an assisted living facility? Questions like these go through the minds of many adults every day, and what the majority of people want is for their aging parents to have the best quality of life. Here are some of the ways that you can help make this possible for them.
In their Home
As we age, we’re more prone to certain illnesses and diseases. Fortunately, the majority of them (e.g., age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.) can be avoided or better managed with a proper diet. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death of people in this age group, and high cholesterol is one of its main causes. Cholesterol can be managed by eating a diet rich in nutrients found in whole grains and leafy green vegetables.
You should also encourage your aging parents to engage in physical activity regularly. This doesn’t mean that they have to go for a run every morning, but it does mean that they can go for a walk, do more gardening and yard work, and even take up active hobbies like fishing. These activities provide an adequate amount of physical activity to compliment a healthy lifestyle. You can also invest in a medical alert system for them, to help them be connected in case of emergencies.
Healthy habits are great, but the home itself should be safe for your aging parent to continue living in. Make sure that their home is free of clutter and other tripping and slipping hazards. Falls among senior citizens are very common, and can even be fatal. Other renovations and home improvements to consider are:
- Grab bars and handles in the shower
- Laminate flooring in place of real hardwood flooring
- Low-pile carpeting over high-pile carpeting
- Residential elevator or stair lift for multi-story homes
- Vinyl flooring in place of tile flooring
In their Community
One illness that may not often be associated with older age is depression. Senior citizens are prone to depression because they’re more likely to isolate themselves— even if they’re still living in their home. Whether your aging parent is still living in their home, living with you, or living in assisted living, it’s important to make sure that they still have opportunities to socialize with others.
Staying connected with others in the community is one of the best ways to improve quality of life for seniors. There are adult day programs that provide activities, counseling, health support, and other support systems for senior citizens. Programs like these are a great way to keep your aging parents active and mentally healthy.
In Assisted Living
Sometimes an assisted living facility is the best way to make sure your aging parents have the best quality of life.
If your aging parent can no longer live safely and comfortably in their home, consider moving them into a retirement home. This type of assisted living is usually set up like an apartment within a community of senior citizens. Your parents will have access to daily assistance and basic medical assistance, as well as the opportunity to socialize with peers. This is the ideal assisted living environment for senior citizens who can no longer live in their own homes.
Nursing homes are residential facilities that are more similar to hospitals than actual homes. This type of assisted living is best suited for your aging parent if he or she has a serious (but not life-threatening) medical condition. In a nursing home, they’ll have access to advanced medical care as needed.
If you’ve decided that a nursing home is the best option for your aging parent, take the time to look for high-quality homes. Unfortunately, the majority of nursing homes in the U.S. are poor in quality, and many residents suffer from bedsores and medication errors, as well as fractures and broken bones due to neglect and abuse, respectively.
First and foremost, both you and your aging parent(s) must decide which living arrangement is best (aging in place, assisted living, etc.). Once that has been determined, you need to ensure that they’re safe and comfortable in the environment they’re living in, and that both their physical and mental health are taken into consideration. Focusing on all of these aspects will help make their quality of life as pleasant as possible.