Busy lives and older parents are not always a match made in heaven and caring for elderly parents can certainly be a challenge, even if you are all still leading separate lives.
We all love our mums and dads but finding the time to share in their lives and support and help can be a challenge. However, our parents deserve to retire and grow old happily and peacefully.
With this in mind, here are some ways you can help with this, and show them how much you care.
Finding time to sit and listen, even a regular phone call can brighten a day. It doesn’t have to be for long, just so they can hear your voice and share their day to day routine.
My mum used to call grandad every Sunday without fail and even though there was seldom any great news to impart, both she and grandad used to get great comfort from these calls.
Getting out and about can be a chore as you get older. Why not ask for a shopping list and do this alongside your weekly shop? Even better find time to take them out on a trip to the shops. You are going anyway so share your time!
If your parents have got to grips with a PC or laptop, help them to do their shopping online. Personally, I feel getting out of the house is far more beneficial though, from the point of view of health and social contact.
Our local older people’s charity has a minibus which takes the elderly to the local supermarket once a week so they can do their shopping and also connect with others over a coffee. Studies show that loneliness is a major threat to health – at all ages.
There will come a time when your parents may be ready for live-in care. Live in care is a fantastic way of offering help to your parents in their older years. Be prepared. Do your homework. Word of mouth is invaluable. Visit different places both with your parents and on your own. Compile a list of questions.
Talk to charities such as Age UK. They will have a wealth of information and plenty of support for both you and your parents, including financial support.
We all love to be pampered, why not organise for a regular chiropodist to visit them at home. Even a reflexology session can have huge benefits. A mobile hairdresser could be also be organised, and they could do fortnightly or monthly visits. What better way to give your mum a treat and a boost to her confidence and wellbeing? Dad too!
Help in the hunt for new people to spend quality time with. This might be finding local community services or centres so they can meet friends. Together they can enjoy a meal or play some bingo. Once they’ve met, you could arrange for them to enjoy a classy afternoon tea together!
Our mobility decreases as we get old. Just as getting out for shopping can be hard work, so can be visiting people. Make it so your parents can still see their loved ones by taking them yourself. Make a weekend of it and stay the night. This will help break up the journey. Your parents are sure to really appreciate the effort you’ve put in. They’ll make some special memories too.
Your parents looked after little kids once with you! Chances are, they’ll want to try it again. Hand over your kids for the afternoon and let them play. Be sure, though, that they are up to coping with the demands of children these days – and that they don’t feel they are just being roped in for some free babysitting.
You could try to organise a big family holiday but if your parents are anything like mine, you may struggle to get the idea accepted. People rarely want to feel as if they’re a burden or a charity case – even if you and your family would love to take them along. Some delicate negotiation might be called for.
If you do manage to persuade them, though, the whole family will enjoy spending time together and making some lasting memories away from the stresses and strains of daily life and the challenges of healthcare and mobility problems.
Those of us who are caring for children and elderly parents know only too well what a fine line must be walked to avoid hurt feelings whilst ensuring proper care is available.
It isn’t always easy but having open and frank conversations can only benefit not only you but your parents too.