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Caring for Your Aging Parents—5 Things to Talk About

>> Mar 14, 2017



It used to be your parents talked to you about your health and made sure you were eating right and staying healthy. As our parents age, however, the care giving roles get reversed and there are certain conversations that we must be the ones to initiate. If you have parents who are in their late sixties and early seventies, now is the time to talk with them about their health. Here are some points that you should plan to discuss with your parents sooner rather than later.

Health-related concerns

Conversations centering around one's health and wellness may seem daunting. Do not let that stop you. An important aspect of caring for an aging parent is that of exploring and discussing ways to improve their quality of life. Would hip surgery allow him to enjoy his nature walks once again? Perhaps your parent may be a candidate for LASIK surgery, allowing greater use of her eyes? Explore the possibilities and then discuss them with your parents. Be a source of well-researched information for them.
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Other questions to ask include whether they are going to their scheduled health appointments. Are they taking their medications? Do they have any new aches and pains that they are dealing with? At this age, minor afflictions can lead to complications if one is not paying close attention.

End-of-life requests

Perhaps you feel that it is too soon to discuss end-of-life care with your parents? It is exactly during this time when they can make thought-out decisions about such matters that you want to have these discussions. Sometimes all that is needed to initiate this conversation is a question as simple as, "Is there anything that worries you about the future?" Matters that you should discuss and know their wishes on include funeral requests, will and estate directives, etc.

Physical duties

As parents age, their ability to do what they were once capable of diminishes. But their awareness of this fact may lag. And for parents who enjoy their independence, they may not desire to rely on others to do what once came so naturally for them. However, as we age, muscle weakness means we are at greater risk of falling. And if we do fall, injuries take longer to heal. Offer to help with specific tasks. Instead of, "Is there anything I can help with?" Go for "I would love to go shopping with you for groceries on Sunday. What do you think?" Make it easy for them to say yes. Drop by for weekly visits and while you are there, clean any hard-to-reach places while you are at it.

Social activities

Making sure that your parent stays active mentally and socially can help decrease their risk of dementia. One study states that it decreases dementia risk by as much as 70 percent. Introduce clubs and events that might be interesting for them to attend. Be particularly attentive to their socialization if you have recently lost a parent, and he or she a spouse. Widows and widowers have a higher risk of becoming socially isolated right after the passing of their loved one. Exercise groups, book reading clubs, charity events are all popular and beneficial options. Offer to drive them to a weekly meetup if transportation is an issue for them.

While most of us wish that our parents would live forever, science has yet to prove helpful on that front. There are, however, discussions that you can have with your parents that will ensure a better quality of life during the time that they do have. For those who are close to their parents, both physically and emotionally, these conversations may be easy. For others, they may prove challenging, as these topics are generally of a more sensitive nature. But the peace of mind that comes will be well worth the effort and time invested in doing so.

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