Helping an Elderly Parent to Maintain Independence

From the first time we open our eyes, our parents are there to nurture and support us. If we are lucky enough for our parents to live a long life, it very often happens that the roles reverse. Elderly parents will gradually need more and more day to day care, but that does not necessarily mean that they need to lose their independence. In fact, maintaining independence and dignity can be beneficial to their physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. To help an elderly parent to maintain their independence for as long as possible, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Do not make big decisions about their life without them

While it is true that some elderly people may not have the mental capacity to make the best decisions about what is best for their safety, in many cases, elderly people are as sharp in their minds as they were when they were your age or younger. Imagine someone telling you where you are going to live, who you are going to see, or what you can do – you would be upset and insulted. Whenever possible, talk with them about what they would like to do, whether that is regarding day to day care or where they would like to go at the weekend. Give them as much control as is safe, and then support them with the practicalities of making it possible.

Help them to stay in their own home safely

Being able to remain in their own home is a major part of retaining a sense of independence and identity. You can make this easier by adapting their home where necessary, e.g., adding rails in the bathroom, installing a walk-in bath or shower, providing an emergency response button or cord, and removing trip hazards. If they need day to day help with bathing, cleaning, shopping, or similar tasks, then turn to home care agencies in Maryland. Professional and friendly caregivers can help ensure that your parents will have the best quality of life without having to leave their homes.

Enable them to be social

Humans are naturally social, which means we thrive when we feel we are part of a family and/or community. Help your parent to keep up with their social life in any way you can whether that is taking them to church or to see friends each week, or to attend public events which interest them.

Keep them involved in everyday tasks

When we see someone that we care about is struggling, it is natural to want to help as much as possible, but cutting them out completely can make them feel helpless or like a child. Try to involve them in everyday tasks as much as possible. If you are washing laundry, ask them to fold. If they are not able to cook for themselves at the stove, ask them to cut vegetables or meat at the table.

Help them to stay active

Keeping active is essential for our physical and mental health, so encouraging them to do whatever they can is important. They may have an exercise program from a physiotherapist to follow, but they could prefer attending a class for seniors at the local gym, gardening, walking in the park, or simple arm exercises, which can be done when seated.

Encourage them to train their brain

Finally, it is important to keep the brain firing on a regular basis, so encourage them to play board games or cards, and/or to complete crosswords, sudoku, or a jigsaw puzzle. If they prefer to watch TV, a game or quiz show is great for keeping the brain engaged.

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