As Baby Boomers continue to age, not only are they concerned with their own health and aging-in-place options, but they are often involved with the aging considerations and well-being of elder parents and other relatives whom they assist. In fact, witnessing parents grow older can be an emotional drain on adult children.
When we age and as our health changes, it is very natural to become focused on ourselves and worry about our own well-being. If we are also faced with the responsibility of assisting parents or other loved ones as they age too, there can often be additional stress and personal difficulties as a result.
This article offers 10 tips that Baby Boomers should consider as they help care for and interact with their aging parents. These tips can reduce your and your parents’ stress levels, as well as provide some productive aging-in-place ideas.
According to Dr. Timothy Schwab, chief medical officer of SCAN Health Plan, parental aging is often a psychological wake-up call for Baby Boomers because it reminds them that they are also aging. “It’s the time when Boomers are first dealing with the reality that their parents are no longer as physically or mentally sharp as they once were.” Schwab believes it is very important for adult children to recognize and appreciate these changes. “They [Baby Boomers] also need to ask themselves, ‘How can I help my parents remain strong and independent for as long as possible?’”
Here are 10 considerations that Baby Boomers should keep in mind as they interact with their aging parents:
1. Hearing Loss – Nearly half of all people over 65 experience some hearing loss. If that is happening to your parents, try speaking in a slightly louder tone—but don’t shout! Also try speaking in a lower pitch, because high frequency sounds become harder to hear. Plus, be careful to not drop off sounds at the end of sentences and make sure you face your parents directly when speaking so they can see your lips and gestures.
2. Vision Loss – Older adults should have a complete eye exam every one to two years. If your parents’ sight is worsening, encourage them to try prescription reading glasses, large-print reading materials, or magnifying aids.
3. Falling Hazards – More than one-third of adults over 65 fall each year. If your parents’ balance or strength is fading, consult a physician—and if necessary, get them the right kind of cane, walker, or wheelchair. Always check homes for tripping hazards such as loose rugs or poorly placed extension cords. Also consider installing grab bars and non-slip rubber mats in the tub or shower.
4. Managing Arthritis – In addition to a medical treatment plan, adaptive equipment (such as wide holders for toothbrushes and easier tops for pill containers), can help your parents better handle household items.
5. Changes In Eating Or Sleeping Patterns – These changes as well as losing interest in activities that once brought pleasure can be signs of depression. Be sure to have these symptoms evaluated by a physician.
6. Decreased Ability To Mentally Retain Information – Limit your statements to one idea at a time and avoid jargon or technical terms (such as computer speak), which may be common to your generation, but foreign to theirs. When your parents are talking, be patient and don’t interrupt. The first thing said may not be the most important thing on their minds, and once interrupted, they may not return to their pressing issue.
7. Minor Memory Loss Is Normal – If your parents are dealing with some memory loss, keep questions simple and avoid multiple choices. Politely ask them to repeat important information so you know that it has been heard and understood.
8. Alzheimer’s Disease Or Dementia – Both of these can lead to a gradual decline in performing daily activities. If this is the case, children should develop familiar routines for their parents.
9. Caregiver Options – Discuss care-giving needs with your parents and other loved ones. Find ways that each family member can help provide support. Also consider utilizing the services of care managers, clergy members, or family counselors.
10. Consult With Physicians Whom Your Parents Trust – Also have a health plan that will best support your parents by providing health management programs and practical support services that don’t drain the family financially and will allow them to remain independent and in their own home for as long as possible.
Overall, sometimes the best tip is the easiest and most natural—when interacting with aging parents, always proceed with love and understanding. Schwab concludes, “Love and patience go a long way. With greater understanding of the aging process, adult children can nurture their family bond while helping their parents maintain the dignity and quality of life that they richly deserve.”
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* LISTEN to your concerns regarding bathroom safety
* ASSESS your bathroom with the Thrive Safety Protocol
* PROVIDE you with recommendations for your safety & fall prevention
* ARRANGE for a quote to install safety enhancements if you desire
To learn more please complete the form on this page or call 330-896-2000.