Aging is often a bitter-sweet process for people. It’s a privilege to grow old, but society often portrays aging as an undesirable (but inevitable) part of life. Aging doesn’t have to be viewed like that, though. We can change the way we think and truly help the ones we love age with grace.
It’s estimated that 20% of the U.S. population will be over 65 by 2030. That means many people will be helping a loved one through their older years. So, how can you help an older loved one age with grace and dignity? For starters, you can make it a priority to do these five things.
Help Them With Medical Appointments
The older someone gets, the more forgetful they often become. It’s a natural part of life, but it can be frustrating for your older loved one.
To help ease some of their frustration, help them stay on top of their medical care. This will ensure their health is cared for and no important appointments are missed. Start by keeping a calendar or agenda specifically for their medical appointments. That way, if either of you needs a reminder, you have a place you can easily look. You can also invest in a medicine organizer that easily keeps track of their daily medications.
Create an In-Law Suite For Your Home
One of the biggest ways to help your aging loved one is to have them move in with you. This means that they can save money on hiring a caretaker and you get the benefit of making sure your loved one is safe. After all, slip and fall accidents in the workplace cost about $70 billion each year but falling is far more common among elderly folks. If a fall were to happen to your loved one while they’re alone on their own property, they will have to pay for medical costs on their own.
You can invite your loved one into your home by creating an in-law suite that’s customized for their needs. For example, you could put rails by the bathtub, build a ramp for the front door, or install a stairlift if they have trouble climbing stairs.
Having an in-law suite in your home is win-win for you and your loved one. They will be close to you, but still have their own space. You can take comfort knowing that they’re safe inside your home, and if anything were to happen, you’d be able to get to them quickly. If you have to revamp your basement or create a home addition, this is all the better for your wallet: the average basement remodel has a 70% ROI. A little ingenuity goes a long way when you’re ready to craft a new living space in your home.
Get Active With Them
Exercising with your loved one is good for their (and your!) physical and mental health. You can go on walks together, do yoga, take dance classes, or join a gym. If you have a dog, go on walks together every day. After all, exercising with a partner can help ensure you both stick to it.
Being active together will help you both in numerous ways. The more active someone is, the less likely they’ll suffer a fall or a bone fracture. Daily exercise also decreases the risks of certain heart diseases. Overall, exercise increases stamina and contributes to a healthy lifestyle. The more exercise you and your loved one can squeeze in, the better.
Create a Strong Support System
Many people fear aging because of the challenges that can come with it. As we get older, we may not be able to see as clearly or walk as much as we did before. This can be incredibly frustrating to deal with as an older person.
A great way to help your loved one through this is to create a strong support system they can rely on. This support system should include family and friends or even a trusted therapist to vent their frustrations. Your loved one can lean on their support system if they need help, or if they simply want to talk.
While it’s important to keep an eye on your loved one’s physical health, you shouldn’t forget to check on their mental health, too. With a support system, they’ll have a group of people to turn to for their needs, whether it’s having an open conversation about their health or going for a walk in the park.
Consider Hospice When the Time Is Right
This may be hard to hear, but one of the best ways you can help your loved one age with grace is to consider hospice care when the time comes. Your loved one should enter a hospice care home when a doctor determines they have six months or less to live. However, many people don’t seek hospice care until the finals weeks, or even days, of their life.
There are numerous benefits to hospice care. Hospice care homes are staffed with professionals who will take care of your loved one’s needs, including bathing, changing, and light housekeeping. Hospice care homes also offer grief support and end of life planning. Hospice care homes know your loved one’s final months are precious. That’s why they’ll make sure your loved one gets the best care and support possible during their stay.
Everyone will have an aging loved one in their lives at some point. The more prepared you are to take care of your loved one, the better off you and your loved one will be. Be prepared to care for their physical and emotional needs, but also don’t forget to enjoy the time you have with them. They’ll never forget how you made them feel during this time.