Life expectancy has consistently increased, with people living longer than they used to. In fact, by 2030, it is expected that 1 in every 6 persons will be 60 years or older.
Aging is a phenomenon that every human being is expected to experience. Aging is caused by the buildup of numerous cellular and molecular damage over time, causing physical and mental abilities to deteriorate gradually.
As our parents age, they usually require help with routine duties, including meal preparation, medication use, and healthcare decision-making. It can be challenging to know how to care for elderly parents, especially given that elders are frequently reluctant to request or accept help from others.
Also, while the need for assistance may seem obvious, many adult children care for elderly parents in ways seen as intrusive rather than helpful. This makes them unlikely to seek help when needed.
You must help your aging parents feel loved and supported because they struggle with many things during this period. They are forced to accept that their bodies can't do something or function as they used to. They are more prone to injuries and infections, often leaving them frustrated. If you're thinking about what ways you can help, here are a few;
1. Hygiene Needs
As our parents age, they can reach a level of frailty where they cannot care for their hygiene needs. This can be due to a limitation in movement or a lack of energy.
Conditions like depression, solitude, dementia, a fear of falling, or pharmaceutical adverse effects can also cause neglect in personal hygiene. Hence, taking care of these needs would be best, especially if they suffer from urinary or fecal incontinence.
An essential tool in caring for their hygiene, especially incontinence, is the use of adult pull ups or adult diapers. Disposable pull-up diapers offer several advantages when helping your parents with incontinence. They are comfortable to wear, eco-friendly, highly absorbable, hygienic, and offer odor protection.
This makes them easy to use while also carrying out their functions effectively. You can also teach your parents to use them unassisted if they can move around independently.
When applying pull-up diapers for your parents, you should pick the right fit. Do this by measuring their waist circumference in inches (in) or centimeters (cm). Then find the smallest size that corresponds to the estimated waist size.
Also, prepare the diapers by removing the leak protectors from the containment zone of the diapers. Remember that you shouldn't touch the interior to prevent contamination.
You should also handle their other hygiene needs like bathing, brushing, and general grooming.
2. Empathy and Respect
You could occasionally be surprised by your parents' reaction to certain things. In fact, they could be downright unpleasant to be around on some days. But it's crucial to be empathetic and respectful despite this.
No matter how frail they might be, always remember that your parents are still your parents and deserve honor and respect. Please do your best to avoid being judgmental or disparaging because they don't try to be difficult on purpose. Aging is just that challenging.
It's critical to realize that your parents are not toddlers who require "parenting." In all of their stubbornness and refusal to receive help, remember to show love, be kind, and be respectful in all things.
3. Health Care
The three pillars of healthy aging are health complication prevention, health maintenance, and health care. Remembering these pillars as you care for your aging parents is essential. You should also be aware of your parents' health conditions, as some may be inherited and impact your health and well-being.
You have to be hypervigilant about your parents' health. This is because they can claim to be okay even when they are not. Pay attention to how they dress and note any changes. Also, note how they walk and move around because you can observe signs of pain or discomfort. Be aware of any signs of weight loss, memory loss, or deterioration of social relationships.
Also, ask them about their health, discuss long-term care options, and spend time with them. Show them that you care.
When your parents' next doctor's visit comes up, offer to accompany them. Find out what prescription(s) your parents are now taking. Investigate the health issues your parents are dealing with so you know how they usually develop and the warning signals to watch for when your parents require additional assistance.
You can help them create a memory book when you notice signs of memory loss. If you have your parent's permission and want more information about health matters, speak with your parent's doctor.
4. Get help
You should avoid taking on all the load when looking after your parents unless necessary. Doing this can make you develop caregiver fatigue which is not good for yourself and your parents. You should send family members updates about your parents' health and well-being.
This not only gives them knowledge about their parents' health and present circumstances, but it also makes it simpler to plan visits and divide responsibilities. This takes the burden off you, preventing exhaustion. It also ensures fresh hands and minds are always available to help your parents. This level of communication also makes it easy to call for help in an emergency.
You don't have to start explaining what has transpired from the beginning; you just have to give the most recent update.
You can also consider employing a caregiver when no other family member is available. This is because it can be difficult or impossible to abandon work and other aspects of your life to stay with your aging parents. Employing a caregiver makes things easier.
5. Last Wishes
Your parents have undoubtedly lived a fruitful life and have done much work. Hence, talking about the legacy they wish to leave behind is beneficial. They should visit an estate planning lawyer to draft a will to avoid having their assets frozen in court and creating complications.
It also helps to know how your parents want to be remembered by their friends and family after they pass away. When they are comfortable discussing it, ask them what type of funeral they want, who, and how many people they want in attendance. Also, ask them what they want done to their remains.
These are complicated discussions, but they can assure your parents that you are thinking of their best interests both now and in the future.
As your parents age, you must continually show them love and respect. You need to do this in words and action. You do this by paying attention to them and listening to their needs. Empathy, love, and respect remain fundamental at this point in their life.