In a blink of an eye, our parents have aged and we are caring for elderly relatives. As someone who has been witnessing a rapid decline in my own mum’s health and mobility, I know only too well that it’s a sad fact that for many, with old age comes a reduction in mobility and a frustrating encroachment on independence. So how do we tread on these tricky waters when caring for elderly relatives? Here, Independent Living Expert, Michael Sandland, shares his top tips on helping our loved ones remain independent in their senior years:
Getting out and about for everyday tasks
Whilst internet shopping can put your mind at ease when caring for elderly relatives during the cold and icy winter months, wherever possible it’s best to encourage your loved ones to get out and about. Popping to the shops for a pint of milk, going on the hunt for a family birthday present or dropping into the bank, going to the shops is an important part of staying active. Completing such tasks can be a challenge for those who struggle with mobility so it can be a good idea to recommend a mobility scooter. These can be a good solution to reduce strain and ensure users get to their destination comfortably. Check out the full range here.
Encourage older people to stay socially connected
As social beings it’s important to stay socially engaged to help avoid isolation, and this rings especially true for those in their advanced years. Building and maintaining relationships is important for mental wellbeing and has also been shown to aid physical wellbeing. There’s some easy ways to encourage older people to stay social. For example, introducing a hobby such as yoga is a sociable way to stay fit or keeping in touch via FaceTime is more interesting than a simple phone call. Attending classes means your loved one will quickly make friends and have a routine social engagement. Alternatively, volunteering in local charity shops can be a great way for relatives to socialise with people from all walks of life.
Staying fit and keeping minds active
Physical and mental agility is crucial to staying independent and there’s lots of ways to keep the mind and body fit as older people age. Whether it’s a daily Sudoku or watching Countdown with your loved ones, all these mind gym activities help to keep the brain sharp. When it comes to exercises to beat ageing, exercise classes for older people can be found at most town halls or local gyms to stay active.
Be mindful when offering support
Providing assistance for older people comes naturally to carers but it’s important to frame the offer in the right way. Whether it’s helping older people navigate the internet or offering support with physical tasks, there are lots of ways you can make a difference to someone’s life. However it can be tough for elderly people to accept help after years of independence. When offering assistance avoid dictating and frame the support in a positive way. For example, if you are concerned about an elderly relative driving a car, maybe suggest they invest in a mobility scooter which is road legal. This will ensure they keep their independence and remain safe.
Support your elders in adapting their home
As people grow older their home needs to adapt to ensure it remains safe and accessible. Indeed, one thing you will often hear older people say is that they don’t want to move into a care home and independence can be prolonged with clever technology and living solutions. For example, specialised adjustable beds, jar openers and big button telephones can do wonders for keeping people independent in their own home.
Do you care for elderly relatives? How do you go about supporting them and what do you think about these tips?
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