Four Quick Ways To Help Older Parents Remain Independent
Many older people value their independence almost more than anything else, which is probably one reason this interchange went sideways.
This subject is very touchy, and knowing what to say, along with how to say it, can make these conversations go much more smoothly.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
Usually, everyone wants what is best for their parents, and usually, everyone disagrees as to what is best. Many times, when children have these discussions with their parents, they have different opinions and perhaps even different agendas. So, before broaching the subject, make sure all of you present a united front and a common approach.
There may be some negotiations involved, and that means some give and take.
Approaching the parents is the next step. Begin by sharing your vision, so say something like “we all agree that we want you to stay in the house as long as possible.” Then, hopefully parents will understand that any assistance is designed to keep them independent and not a back-door way to place them in nursing homes.
Nobody has infinite energy and strength, so if parents can save a little effort doing the shopping, that energy can be devoted elsewhere, to things like physical exercise.
Online grocery shopping is usually a good idea. Many local stores have either home delivery options or at least curbside pickup options. Many times, home delivery is available for pharmacy refills and other items, such as home improvement stuff, as well.
Although computer literacy has doubled for folks over 65 in about the last decade, there is still a good chance that Mom or Dad is an online novice. If this step involves some informal computer literacy classes, be patient. Teaching Mom to use a computer is a lot like her teaching you how to drive. There was some frustration and maybe some flared tempers, but in the end, you learned how to drive. And in the end, she’ll learn how to use her computer.
Preparing the Home
Once again, presentation is everything. Mom could easily resent a simple gift like a shower stool if she thinks that her independence is threatened. So, be sure and frame the stool, or whatever else you give, as a way for her to stay in the home with less outside assistance.
There are some permanent alterations to consider as well. For example, consider installing hand rails in the bathroom, lowering shelves in the pantry, and adding more light throughout the house.
There is considerable evidence that 20 minutes of vigorous walking a day can produce significant physical and emotional benefits, so it is fairly easy for everyone to stay in shape. Moreover, small lifestyle changes, like standing more, make a big difference as well.
Perhaps most importantly for seniors wanting to keep their independence, physical exercise reduces the risk of a physical disability and speeds recovery in these instances.
That last bit should be enough to get Mom motivated to fastwalk a few laps, walk the dog twice a day, get off the recliner, and so on. The increased activity will cause her body to release more endorphins, improving her mood and hopefully staving off loneliness.
With a little planning and forethought, Mom or Dad can stay independent, and in most cases, everyone wants that.