Aging Parents – Getting old is no mean feat. Here’s how to make things easier for the people you value so much.
One day we will all get old. For your parents or your parents, this day may already have come. But that doesn’t mean the good days are over. Far from there! Your loved one can still be dancing and healthy, find meaning and live a fulfilling life after their 70s, 80s, and beyond, and you can help. Take a holistic approach with these five ways to improve the seniors in your life every day. These are great tips for you too.
1. Provide adequate nutrition so that they retain strength and energy.
Eating a healthy diet with a variety of proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains is key to your parents’ well-being. Many Canadian seniors suffer from malnutrition for various reasons (such as mobility problems, depression, dental problems, and cognitive decline). If your loved one cannot prepare and cook their meals or is having trouble cooking enough healthy options to maintain their strength and energy, consider a senior meal service that will deliver nutritious prepared foods right to their doorstep.
When choosing a service, keep in mind:
- Healthy and well-balanced, and nutritious meal options
- Customization that takes into account the nutritional needs of your parents (such as gluten-free, lactose-free, or low in sodium)
- Easy ordering
- Courteous and friendly staff who help your parents fill their freezer
- reliable and timely delivery
2. Eliminate obstacles to physical activity.
Current protocols recommend 150 minutes (or 2.5 hours) of moderate to strenuous physical activity each week because it is good for overall health, may help prevent specific health problems, improve balance and strength, and help recover from surgery or injury. This activity may include walking or driving, cleaning, swimming, aerobics, gardening, or walking for your parents. Yoga or stretching is also a good addition! To help your parents stick to a routine, you could arrange transportation for classes, encourage them to find a walking buddy around their neighborhood, or install them with light weights, rubber bands, and videos at home.
3. Suggest ways to communicate with family members and the community.
In addition to reducing the quality of life, loneliness and social isolation can even shorten your parents’ lifespan, which can be especially true for older adults living alone. If you can, help your loved one plan regular visits with family and friends (for walks, card games, coffee, meals, or car rides) or arrange transportation so they can visit a center for the elderly. When it comes to family dinners and celebrations for milestones such as birthdays and graduation ceremonies, always encourage them to participate.
4. Help them find a goal each day.
Everyone is different when it comes to finding their goal, and that goal can change later in life when building a career or raising a family is no longer a priority. For seniors, traveling, learning, creating, and cultivating (be it a painting or a fresh tomato) and spending time with friends can nurture a sense of purpose.
It’s also essential that your parents feel that they have something to contribute – to the world or your family. This contribution could be volunteering at a canteen or animal shelter or knitting scarves for all the grandchildren, organizing family photos, or recording family history.
5. Give them things and tools to keep their minds clear and sharp.
Diet, exercise, and social interactions can all have a massive impact on cognitive health. But it is also essential to keep the mind occupied with more complex activities. One study has shown that learning cognitively demanding skills, such as quilting or digital photography, improves memory in some older people. The same goes for reading novels and writing. You may want to supply your loved one with books (or an e-reader) with large text or help them enroll in a local class.