A comfortable old age is the best reward any parent can get for their all through hardworking life. Like Shakespeare said towards old age, this, in an opposite way to childhood, walks near the gates of life, and it is the period where the child must take care of his parent like the parent did for the child when he was young. The relation between parents and children has existed since time immemorial. We all have great obligations to our parents as they have always guided us onto the right path. They have fulfilled all our wants and necessities. Helping your parents in old age and taking care of them is a way of strengthening your relationship with them.
The form of elderly care provided varies greatly among countries. For example in India, parents are typically cared for by their children into old age, most commonly by their sons. It should be noted that in these countries, elderly citizens, especially men, are viewed in very high regard. Approaching old age implies change in living style in economical, social and personal ways.
Here are some ways to help your old age parents:
1. Give emotional support:
It is the most important thing that a parent could get. Having a child who understands what they think and listen to them, talk to them on a daily basis. Ask them if they have been facing any difficulties or disturbances from anything or anyone. Talk to them about their friends, other community members etc sometimes parents wish no more than that. Learn about the aging process and the common problems that will be faced during old age. If there happen to be some mistakes done by your parents don’t get irritated over them and explain them saying “it is okay” and ask them not to worry about it anymore.
2. Take care of their health:
If one of your parents is not well on a continual basis, then have nurses or caretakers who can take care of their health all the time. Have all the necessary equipment they may require in emergency conditions. And make sure to keep them in reach of your parents.
3. Check if they are financially stable:
Sometimes, parents do not want to bother their children if they are even facing some financial problems, they don’t dare to ask. You better check their situation frequently and assure them by saying that if they need help please do not hesitate to bother your children. Adding the word ‘your’ will make them feel better. Discuss if their sources of income are coming regularly (e.g. pension checks, annuities and/or Social Security), and ask them to keep an up-to-date document with this information.
4. Create a memory book:
It’s common for seniors to experience short-term memory problems. Reminiscing might help. Start creating a scrapbook for your parents, filled with photos and names of the people, places and pets from their past. If you have time, work on the scrapbook together and explain them with details of each thing in the book. You can even create a journal for them with the important appointments they may have in the near future so that they do not forget about it. For example if your parents are under medication or if they have an appointment with a doctor in coming week, note it down for them so that they can remember it easily.
5. Speak to them often:
If you don’t live near to your old parents make sure to call them frequently. Know how they have been doing, how is their health, or just make a conversation about when you will be next meeting them. My grandparents do not live in the same place of ours, so I used to call them whenever I get free time just to catch up to them. Me just asking how have you been? I hope to see you soon. Or a chat regarding my visit there in the upcoming week would delight them.
6. Have patience with them:
Remember they had patience when they taught you almost everything. Now if they don’t remember things due to old age, or if they keep forgetting where they kept their belongings, if they are slow at doing things, be patient with them. They had behaved with great patience with you throughout your childhood, now it is your turn to have patience. And most importantly you have to accept their habits if you and your elderly parents are living together. Keep a note of their daily routine. The things they like or they follow. Respect them. They are the habits which have grown over years and cannot be easily changed. Give them their independence in doing things.
7. Arrange meetings with other family members:
If you are not the only child of your parents , arrange them to meet with the rest of your siblings often, meeting their other family members and knowing their whereabouts once in a while will delight them. Meeting their grand children, telling them stories of their past, having group lunch will make them happy.
8. Arrange some community programs:
Some times what elder people want may be another elder to share his thoughts with, a friend in the same age group. Arrange a meet with all the older people in your society. Contact your society council if you can set up a place for the elderly people where they can just hangout with their friends of same age group, may be a lunch meetings on every other weekend in the nearby park. They may even feel young and enthusiastic within the same age group people.
9. Make necessary home arrangements:
Consider your parents health conditions and their preferences before making necessary changes or arrangements. If they have joint problems make sure their room is downstairs so that they need not strain themselves much. If they like their room to be spacious with less furniture let it is. If they live separately do regular house check up’s and find if there are any changes that are need to be made, or any broken things that need to be repaired.
10. Assess care giving needs:
Your parents may be old enough that they couldn’t go and run their errands. You run it for them. They may be daily errands like getting a newspaper or weekly errands like getting vegetables from the market. If you do it for them, they would definitely love it. Ask them if they wish to accompany with you. This causes them pleasure.
Helping your parents through their old age gives you a satisfaction and confirmation to them that their children actually care for them. They become mutually dependent. Families that view dependence needs as normal and varying across the life span from infancy through old age create a climate for the development of interdependence. An intergenerational strength with the potential for supportiveness by more generations is created. In mutual dependency the old will not attempt to manipulate or control the behaviour of the young nor will the younger generation attempt to take control or treat their parents as helpless. With mutual dependency, neither you nor your older parent will feel burdensome, and can have a comfortable living.