Many adult children wonder what their aging parents may need and how can they can help provide it for them. Here are 6 tips for caring for elderly parents.
You may constantly worry about your parents or other older loved ones, especially if you live far away from them. You can, however, take some simple steps to ensure your parents are safe as they age.
Tip No. 1: Recognize the Risks Older Adults Face
Knowing the risks seniors face can help you begin an action plan for your parents. It may be difficult for some older adults to complete tasks they could do before with ease, particularly if they live alone. Examples of those tasks can include:
- Taking medication correctly and on time
- Remembering things, keeping up conversation, or multitasking
- Getting help in a medical emergency, such as a fall
- Eating healthfully
- Moving safely around their home
Being aware of these common concerns can be an important first step in doing everything you can to protect your parents as they age.
Tip No. 2: Ensure Medication Compliance
If your parents have health conditions that require them to take medication regularly, you should take time to make sure they are adhering to their prescription instructions. It may be a good idea to routinely review the medications your parents take, the name of the medications, and any potential side effects.
You may consider creating a medication schedule that you can both follow, so that you (or a home care provider) can check in and confirm your loved one is remembering to take medications when necessary.
Tip No. 3: Prepare for Cognitive Decline
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect more than 5 million adults aged 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Keep your parents safe by understanding their current cognitive abilities and any risks they may face for future decline.
Consider setting up a routine for your parents’ day-to-day lives. This might include social engagement and spending time with you and other family members, which may become even more crucial if their cognitive health has deteriorated.
Tip No. 4: Equip Aging Parents for Medical Emergencies
Older adults that live alone are vulnerable to falls and other medical emergencies. If you live out of state, you may have concerns about your parents being able to act quickly in ensuring they get emergency medical attention when they need it.
To help your parents respond to emergencies, consider using a medical alert system. With a medical alert system, your parents will have emergency assistance at the push of a button. Many different companies offer this type of service. An online search can help you narrow it down.
Tip No. 5: Plan for Meals
Seniors, especially those that live with memory issues, may not eat regularly. Without adequate nutrition, older adults may fall ill, or any current condition may worsen. Many seniors across the United States are food insecure. Fortunately, there are certain Medicare Advantage grocery benefit programs as well as other free or inexpensive meal delivery services, such as Meals on Wheels, that deliver nutritious meals to seniors.
Tip No. 6: Prevent Household Injury
Household injury is a major risk for seniors, especially those who live alone. You should do a sweep of your parent’s home and remove all potential hazards, including unsecured electrical cords, household products and chemicals, or loose rugs. Fix broken handrails on staircases, install grab bars in bathtubs, and ensure there is adequate lighting in their home. Taking each of these steps, and any others you see fit, can help avoid a preventable injury.