As family members, we are fortunate to get to see our parents age. Unfortunately, everyone does not have the same experience with watching parents enter retirement and beyond. For the blessed few, having our aging loved ones maintain their active lifestyle is critical to their wellbeing and ours. Many patients of nursing homes do not receive their care directly from loved ones but that does not have to be the case for your family. Here are multiple tips for supporting parents over age 50.
An agile person is a healthy person. For your family in particular, being fit and nimble will go a long way to preventing accidents or falls. Past a certain age, physicians consider a fall to be a life event that can have dire consequences. Thus, encourage daily actions with your forebearers like daily walks or buy a couple of pickleball paddles and find a court to play on. Your mom or dad may be more inclined to stay sprightly if the family unit also participates. Research suggests that a person with more dexterity incurs lower healthcare costs, which can make a significant impact on the health of our family.
As we age, so too do our body’s organs. Our brains may not execute functions in the same way as it gets older. So it is our responsibility to practice and test our memories frequently. For a grandparent, this may look like keeping a routine of household chores. The repetition of familiar tasks serves as a powerful cerebral activity, allowing the mind to preserve its neural pathways and prevent atrophy. If you have the tenacity, you can even try teaching your elders how to download brain games from a smartphone. A little aid from you and your siblings or children can go a long way.
For every generation, eating healthy food equates to living a healthy lifestyle. This should not change as we get older. Despite the fact that many over 50 have settled into the diet they are comfortable with, it is crucial that they also receive an adequate amount of nutrients daily. Though this may be challenging, some simple ways to improve one’s nutritional intake are:
- eating superfoods which are nutrient-rich, like blueberries, avocado, pistachios, and chia seeds
- switching from coffee to decaffeinated tea
- exchanging honey or agave for granulated sugar
- encouraging a reduction of starches
- introducing a tasty vegetable recipe like brussel sprouts or lentils
When it comes to our parents’ welfare, we must not forget the state of their emotions. Our family patriarchs and matriarchs did not necessarily receive as many lessons in emotional management as younger generations. As a result, there is a chasm between our expectations for their mental health and their own expectations. To assist in the enhancement of their mental wellness, start with being gentle. Inform your parents or grandparents about your experience with a therapist or support group. Let them know you can help with finding a credible resource who specializes in the behavioral health of our senior population.
Though it is difficult to imagine, you may see life one day without your parents. The best way to mourn our ancestors is to honor the way they lived. This means ensuring the legacy they leave behind is not lost but carried forward. As the offspring, it should be your duty to assist them today with making end-of-life plans and an advance directive. Why now? Planning for this stage of life will be less stressful if your family member is of sound mind and removed from the anxiety of palliative care. Making sure this step is complete will also give your senior loved one peace of mind.
Growing up, we witness our parents have all the responsibility. Through aging, we learn that the tables will one day turn and the children will be the ones parenting. Though this will be difficult, your kin will prefer you taking care of them over the reverse. Remember that everyone deserves grace while aging and you can be the one to sustain their feelings of dignity.