Loneliness, isolation, hopelessness and boredom are all things people may feel as they age. They may not be able to remain as social as they once were, their immobility could be a significant factor in making them feel isolated, there will inevitably be physical and/or mental health issues, and watching friends pass way might be making them stay at home more. When it comes to caring for aging parents, here are six things you can do to connect with them, keep their spirits up and help them feel integrated and important in their lives.
Encourage Them to Eat Healthily
Eating healthy is very important to maintain physical and mental fitness, even if you’re just starting in old age. People are more prone to illnesses as they get older, making it necessary to eat foods that can boost the immune system. Other than that, they also need all the essential nutrients from natural foods as they are better than supplements.
Encourage them to eat foods that are:
- Whole plant foods
- High in fiber
- High in protein
- Low in processed sugars
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and legumes are all great options. When taking care of aging parents, consider cooking meals for them in bulk (soups are a great option for this!), encouraging them to join healthy eating groups, subscribing to meal kit delivery services, or hiring in-home help to prepare meals. This is a great way to support them and help them enjoy their twilight years.
Get Them Exercising
Physical fitness is important at every age, even if someone has been sedentary for a while. If mom or dad is already quite mobile, show your enthusiastic support for this and encourage them to keep exercising. If not, check in with them and see what they might be open to. Perhaps it’s a walk around their neighborhood. Maybe it’s a silver sneakers and aqua class at a nearby gym. Perhaps it’s a membership to a yoga studio. It could even be online! Whatever the choice, get them moving everyday with a type of exercise that is appealing to them.
Monitor Their Sleep Patterns
Ask them if they have regular sleeping patterns. Frequent waking and insomnia can be common, and we know that sleep is a vital aspect of healthy living. Make sure there isn’t anything in the room bothering them. Replacing any annoying light or an appliance that makes a lot of noise. Make sure their bedroom is as comfortable as it can be for them.
Get Them Online
The internet is an excellent piece of technology that can have many benefits. Introduce them to social media websites, community websites and apps (like Nextdoor and Meetup), Google search, and streaming services like Netflix. It can help foster a sense of community and help them connect with new friends.
Make Sure They Get Proper Healthcare
Take them to the doctor on a regular cadence to get routine tests done. If they have a condition, visit them frequently and call more to make sure they are well. If needed and possible, look into options like hiring a nurse or enrolling in a senior home care center which can provide round-the-clock care, serve healthy food, and give them a lot of time to socialize and engage in activities.
A visit from you can make things better. You may be used to calling once in a while but making surprise visits can brighten their day. If you have kids, take them along. It’s important for all people to feel integrated in a community and family, and quality time together can make life more meaningful.
When caring for aging parents, the most important thing is to communicate often. Stay involved in their lives, help them do the things they’re interested in, encourage good habits that make life enjoyable. This will help them live more happily for longer and will strengthen your relationship with each other.