10 Great Ways To Look After An Older Parent

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Last Updated on October 10, 2023

Image Credit: CDC from Unsplash.

Image Credit: CDC from Unsplash.

Parents spend years looking after their kids and eventually watch them thrive in adulthood. There comes a point, however, where they might need to be looked after. As they reach their later years, you could find that your parents are experiencing various things.

Decreased mobility, Alzheimer’s disease, and various health conditions can all be part of this. You’ll need to look after an older parent when that happens.

While you might already know that, you mightn’t know how to actually do it. While this varies from case to case, there are more than a few practical things you can do. By putting a little time and effort into it from the start, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

Look After An Older Parent: 10 Great Strategies

1. Call Them Often

If your parents are still relatively healthy and don’t need much actual help, then you wouldn’t need to do much for them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a little effort in, though. Make sure you call them often so you can keep in touch and actually talk to them. They should be sure to appreciate it.

Then there’s the fact they might want to have a simple conversation and keep up-to-date on things. You’ve no reason not to take a few minutes out of your day to keep in touch with them. It only takes a little while, so give it a try.

2. Visit

Similar to making a phone call, visiting your parents often is a great thing to do. In many cases, phone calls wouldn’t be enough. Visit them at least once or twice a week to see how they’re doing. While you might need to make sure they’re free for a visit, there shouldn’t be anything getting in your way with this.

Even a quick visit could be more than enough for this. Your parents will appreciate it, and you will, too. When you’re there, you’ll also get to see whether they need help with anything and if there’s anything you can do for them.

3. Empathize With Them

It’s easy to feel irritated when you’re looking after them, especially if they need a lot of help. Make sure that doesn’t happen, however. Keep in mind that they have no control over any medical conditions or changes as they get older. It’ll be completely out of their hands.

There’s also the fact that they mightn’t feel great about the situation either. Take the time to emphatize with them and see things from their perspective. Imagine how you would feel if you were in their position. It wouldn’t be a pleasant sensation, especially if you had someone getting irritated at you over it.

4. Watch What You Say

Speaking of empathizing with them, make sure you watch what you say when you’re around them. Don’t make negative comments if they’ve forgotten about something, for example. It’s also worth avoiding telling them they could do something if they actually tried. These could end up being hurtful, especially considering they mightn’t be able to.

Over time, they could physically and mentally deteriorate, so they mightn’t be able to do the things they used to do before. Keep that in mind and choose your words carefully. Everyone will end up in a better position once you do.

5. Make A Plan

There’s always a chance your parents can be diagnosed with a medical condition. Then there’s the fact that they might come to a point where they can’t look after themselves anymore. You’ll naturally want to look after an older parent when that happens. Their condition could keep getting worse and worse, though.

Make sure you have a plan for when that happens. Work with them to come up with a long-term care plan that they’re comfortable with. While it might never come to a point where you’ll need to get help with their care, it’s worth having a plan for if it happens.

6. Consider Safety Systems

You’ll naturally be worried about your parents’ safety once they’ve reached a certain age. If they’ve developed any medical conditions, you’ll be even more worried. The easiest way to minimize this is to install some safety systems so they don’t fall or hurt themselves, especially when you’re not there.

You can get various devices that’ll help with this, and even a few monitoring tools so you can keep an eye on them when you’re not there. While you’ll have to invest in these, it’s worth it to make sure your parents are safe.

7. Have A Network

You can’t look after an older parent – or both parents – by yourself. It could end up being a full-time job if you tried. It’ll be 24/7, and nobody’s capable of doing that alone. Instead of trying to do it yourself, have a network of people who can all chip in and take care of different duties.

Usually, it’ll be your close family that helps with this, with your brothers and sisters being the most notable. Make sure you communicate with them about anything to do with your parents, and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Your parents will get much better care because of it.

8. Talk About Their Passing

One thing you might need to think about when you have older parents is their passing. You’ll need to talk about this with them once they’ve reached a certain age. If they’ve developed any ongoing medical issues, it’s an especially important discussion to have. You’ll need to talk to them about what they want to happen once they’re gone.

Outside of their will, talk to them about their funeral. From whether they want to be cremated or buried to what kind of bible verses for funerals they want, make sure you have this conversation with them.

9. Pay Attention To Weight Loss

While you mightn’t have thought about it, you’ll need to pay attention to your parents’ weight. It’s one of the easier ways to figure out whether or not their health is declining. If there’s been any unexplained weight loss, it could be a sign their health is getting worse.

In many cases, it’ll highlight the fact that they’re not able to cook for themselves as much as they used to. It might’ve gotten too difficult for them, so they wouldn’t  be eating as much. Be on the lookout for this as much as possible.

10. Keep A Positive Attitude

If your parents are experiencing various health conditions, it’s easy to feel negative about it. When you’re spending a lot of time helping them, that’s especially true. Try to keep as much of a positive attitude as you can when you’re doing this. If you don’t, you could end up feeling worse and worse over it.

While this can be relatively difficult to do, it’s worth putting the time and effort into. The best thing you can do for yourself – and your parents – is to make sure you’re not getting depressed about the situation. You can help them much better with a positive attitude.

Look After An Older Parent: Wrapping Up

If you need to look after an older parent, there are multiple things you could do. Not all of these have to be complicated, and you can adapt them to your parents’ needs. While you’ll have to be willing to be there for them, that should already be something you want to do.

After that, it’s a matter of being practical and focusing on their needs. It’ll be much easier than you’d expect.

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