Anyone who has a loving relationship with their parent wants to make sure that they are well-cared for and have the highest quality of life possible in the twilight years of their lives. After your parents nurtured you as a child, it only feels right to take care of them as they age.
But it can be hard watching your parents get older because aging is often accompanied by mobility, health, and memory issues. While you remember your parents in their prime, the health that they enjoyed in their 30s and 40s may no longer be there.
If you’re worried that your parent’s quality of life is not where it should be, here are a few simple ways to make sure they’re living their best life:
Eating Good Food
One of the simplest pleasures in life is tasty food. Many people resort to freezer meals as they age because they’re relatively affordable and easy to prepare. However, they’re often very high in sodium, which can cause high blood pressure.
Instead, make sure your parents have access to high-quality food that they enjoy eating. Whether dropping off a freshly-baked loaf of bread for toast and sandwiches or even a casserole dish full of their favorite stick-to-their-bones meal, giving your parent a way to eat good food is well worth the effort.
If it’s not possible for you to help your parent get groceries or drop off food, look into meal delivery services such as Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels exists to make sure no senior goes hungry, so they offer prices based on need. Plus, while the Meals on Wheels volunteer their time to drop off the food, they also perform safety checks and make a point to have a conversation with your loved one.
As mundane as it might seem, high-quality, enjoyable food can be a really important part of a senior’s day.
Keeping Active and Strong
Not only does getting outside help with mood as seniors need just as much sunshine as anyone else, but strengthening their muscles and tendons is an important part of general health.
Unfortunately for many seniors, remaining inactive for months or years at a time can contribute to an onset of frailty, i.e. a general lack of strength and energy. Once a person becomes frail, it is not only harder to exercise, but they are more likely to become injured due to a lack of balance and physical weakness.
Ideally, an older person exercises for 30 minutes to one hour a day. The amount of time is no different from younger people; the difference is in the intensity of the exercise. Instead of weight lifting or jogging as you might have done in your 30s, opt for more fluid, lower-impact exercises such water aerobics, easy cycling, golfing, or walking. This will help the senior in your life maintain crucial muscle mass and mobility, making them more physically independent.
On the plus side, staying active physically often contributes to a healthier social life as people build friendships in exercise classes, as walking partners, or even going shopping with friends. An active and strong body affects every aspect of life in a positive way.
Keeping up with doctors’ appointments in your golden years can be overwhelming. Oftentimes, seniors need to go to the dentist twice a year and to the eye doctor once a year. In addition, they’ll need to see their family doctor twice a year in their 70s and three times a year in their 80s. Any specialists will also need to be seen on whatever schedule the doctor recommends. It can really start to add up. But it’s crucial for your parent to attend these appointments because it will help doctors catch any possible health problems early.
For many seniors, though, it can be difficult to get around, especially if they have to travel long distances to get to the doctor for these appointments. Remove that barrier for your parent by making sure you know when the doctors’ appointments are. Take the burden off of your parent by arranging someone to go with them, whether that be you, one of your siblings, or even a family friend. Don’t wait for your parent to ask you for help since they may think it’s too small of an issue to bother you with.
Going with them will provide them reassurance as they speak to the doctor about any medical problems, and consider making the day of it by treating them to a meal out while you’re at it! Nothing like making the most of a situation that most people find less than fun.
Just like anyone else, it’s important for seniors to stay socially active. In fact, because they probably aren’t going to work for eight hours a day anymore, their social calendar can help fill in the gaps of their days to give them something to look forward to and help them stay rooted in relationships.
One great option for social activity is for your parent to play card games with friends, such as Bridge or Spades. It’s a great way to keep their minds active, have conversations with friends, and even add a bit of friendly competition to their days!
Another consideration is to make sure your loved one is taken care of during the holidays. It’s common knowledge that holidays can be depressing for many, and especially older adults as they remember those who are no longer with them. Keep your loved ones involved in holiday celebrations as much as possible. Even better if they have grandchildren – there’s nothing much better than experiencing the holidays through a child’s eyes!
Last but not least, many seniors enjoy traveling and getting out of their day-to-day routines with a trip. If this sounds like your parent, arrange a way for them to do some traveling, whether that’s with you on small day-trips around your region or even on senior group vacations. It can be a highlight of someone’s year to see new sights and get out of the routine.
Home is Where the Heart is
At Home Instead, we’re huge believers in the value of keeping your parents in their homes. We believe it enhances the lives of not only seniors but also their families. While there are nice nursing homes and assisted living facilities, getting older should be a time of hope and family, and we believe that home is the best place to be.
We understand that improving the quality of your parent’s life can be hard as it takes time and effort. But it is more than worth it knowing that they are happy and enjoying the life they’ve been given. If you want help making sure your parent has high-quality, delicious food, is staying physically and socially active, has access to transportation for doctors’ appointments, and can stay in their home, the Care Professionals at Home Instead® can help.
In fact, that’s why we do what we do. Because we believe that all of these things are attainable and well worth the effort to improve your loved one’s quality of life.