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A senior couple looking contentIf you’re an adult with parents who are getting older, you realize, before your parents would, that their need for support is growing. Sadly, it’s not always easy to figure out the best way to provide support. Your mom and dad might feel that an increased level of support is a sign of them giving up their independence. Often children are not sure what would be best for their parents – to take full responsibility over their needs and schedules despite their objections, or do the opposite and allow them complete autonomy until they realize they need help on their own.

Of course, a better approach is probably a happy medium, at least at the beginning.  While you work on gradually introducing more occasions when you take care of them, you still need to give them an opportunity to feel independent and take care of themselves. But how can you know they are doing it well?

Here are 3 ways to help you make sure your parents are caring for themselves.

1. HELP WITH AN EASY ROUTINE THAT LEADS TO A FEELING OF ACCOMPLISHMENT

Creating a weekly routine is one of the best ways to make sure your parents are taking care of themselves. It doesn’t have to be anything big or complicated. It can be a consistent time that allows them to get things done without worrying whether they will have time the next day or not because they know they have a regular time that they can look forward to. For example, it can be as simple as taking the evening to do some housework. Having a regular time for tasks that don’t require extra effort but can still provide them with a sense of purpose is a great feeling.

2. ENCOURAGE THEM TO STAY SOCIALLY ACTIVE AND INVOLVED

Our social environment is what keeps us going as we wrote earlier. And once established social connections get lost when your older parents retire, are widowed or divorced, it’s easy for them to start feeling lonely or excluded. There is nothing wrong with staying at home, but it’s important for you to encourage them to find new ways to stay connected to friends, family, and community. Encourage them to create social circles, join clubs or volunteer for activities that are meaningful to them. These are all great ways to stay active and connected. Another option to consider is to have a home care agency like ours arrange for a caregiver who would provide companionship and socialization and usually become a dear friend.

3. ENSURE IT’S EASY FOR THEM TO STAY HEALTHY

A disciplined approach to health care makes a big difference as your parents get older. It’s possible for seniors who are left to their own devices to get overwhelmed with their illness or forget about doctor’s appointments, etc. That’s why it’s important to make sure they have an easy system to take care of their health. Check if they have medication they can take without anyone’s observation. Encourage them to get a medical organizer book to not only keep track of their appointments but also to make any notes about what they should prepare ahead of time or bring to the appointment. And most importantly, help them stay safe by ensuring they have access to a phone to call you or another dedicated caregiver at any time.

Once the three aspects we discussed above are addressed, it will be easier for you to have some peace of mind about your parents for a while. However, there is one last piece we need to add to the puzzle, and that is to check on them frequently. If everything goes well with your mom and dad’s independent routine, it will just show them that you are in their life and you care. If something goes wrong, it will give you a chance to notice it quickly and arrange for help.