Watching your loved ones age can be emotionally exhausting, but it also poses all manner of logistical concerns that have to be overcome too. Many people find it tremendously difficult to discuss their own aging and mortality, as well as that of their family members, so it’s a subject which quite often has to be treated with a certain amount of tact and care. But it’s not a topic we can ignore. Aging is as inevitable as the sun rising, and being unprepared is only going to cause problems down the line. It’s all about strong and honest communication and planning ahead, with a good bit of compassion thrown in too.
Get them the right medical care
Aging tends to mean an increase in the number and severity of health problems, so having the right medical team on hand is imperative. Their personal physician is the right place to start. Your relative needs to trust them to listen, help them, but they also need to be able to afford them. Their personal physician will be the right person to refer them to specialists for specific care, but they should be able to reassure any concerns and perform regular health checks up until this point. A personal physician who specializes in geriatric care is particularly useful, but trust and availability should be prioritized.
Ensure they’ve got company
It’s a sad truth that as people age, loneliness can set in. This is partly a result of decreased mobility as a result of the aging process, meaning people find it more difficult to leave their home to see others. It’s also a result of the aging, and eventual passing, of their friends. Older people are at risk of suffering from depression as a result of isolation and bereavement, so having family and friends around is of absolutely fundamental importance. If you live too far from your aging loved one, it could be worth considering paying a companion to spend time with them regularly to ensure they never become too isolated. Many areas have local groups for older people to meet and socialize, so it’s always worth looking online and asking around.
Plan for their old age
Sometimes people become unable to care for themselves, either due to medical conditions or just old age. In these situations, they need to be cared for, either by professional carers or willing family members. The best way to prepare for this eventuality is by spending time talking to your loved one before they reach that point. Allowing them to communicate their desires and concerns means they are able to feel part of the decision-making process and will help to ensure their happiness. Choosing a care home together will help to ensure the home will suit both your and their needs, as well as stick within a budget. Looking into care at McKnight Place, and other similar institutions allow you peace of mind that your loved one is being well looked after. If you choose to care for them in your own home, ensure you plan to have all the help available that you will need. It’s also important to consider how it will affect your personal finances, family life, and relationships – it’s a huge commitment after all.
Keep them occupied
Boredom is a big risk for people as they age, as they become less able to undertake tasks that previously made them happy. Reduced eyesight can make reading and puzzles more tricky, and impeded mobility makes it difficult to see friends, play games, or engage in activities such as fishing. Finding alternative entertainment is crucial to their happiness, as boredom is known to lead to mental health problems, especially in older people. It’s also proven that mental stimulation can slow the onset of dementia, so it’s particularly important. Large-text reading books and puzzles are a good start, and social clubs for older people to play dominoes and cards are also great for keeping their brains engaged. The key is to also keep them moving, even within their limited mobility, so trips to the park or to visit family enable them to keep engaged, and boost happiness.
Listen to them
It can be far too easy to think you know best for someone who is aging, but the risk is that you force them to do something they’re not comfortable with or happy about. The key is good communication, and listening to their wants and worries. It’s far easier to achieve this ahead of time, as a more pragmatic approach can be taken by each party. When looking into care homes is a more pressing issue, tempers and emotions can start to run high, and communication dwindles as a result. However upsetting or difficult a family member is being, when you’re making decisions about their care and housing, it’s important to take their desires into consideration. Communicating effectively throughout later life regarding plans for their old age allows you to all be clear on what should happen, without anyone feeling pressured into any particular decision.
Keep a backup plan
Sometimes even the best plans fail, and this is especially the case when it comes to the difficulties and tribulations of aging and old age health. Having backup plans in place enable peace of mind when staring into the unknown. Ensuring that your loved one has a will kept up to date, and you have considered who will take power of attorney in cases of compromised faculties means you’ll always be prepared for the worst. It’s not easy to consider the worst case scenarios, but if they do happen, you’ll be glad you were prepared. It also helps to reassure your loved one that they’re being cared for, and that you’ve invested time and energy into ensuring that they’ll be looked after and their wishes will be carried out. Aging can be really scary, so knowing that their family is always looking out for them will be really reassuring.
Planning ahead and clear and structured communications are the best way to ensure your loved ones age happily, and that everything runs as smoothly as possible.