6 Tips To Guarantee Your Aging Parents a Healthy (and Happy!) Retirement

mother and daughter

One in 10 people in the US who have their own family and children are also caring for their older parents. While we all tend to think about retirement as the “golden years” to enjoy in a balanced financial situation, in our home, and surrounded by our loved ones, this isn’t always the case. 

Luckily, there is a lot you can do to ensure that your aging parents can make the most of their upcoming years. In the sections below, you can find some useful tips to introduce today and enhance the quality of life of your older parents. After all, this is the time to give back to them!

Create a More Accessible Home

Loss of mobility is a natural condition that happens as a result of aging and affects 35% of people older than 70 and most people over 85 years. As we age, it is normal to experience a loss of strength and balance. And, of course, diseases that are common in older people – such as arthritis – can reduce mobility even more. 

In turn, a loss of mobility can have many physical and psychological consequences, especially if your aging parent is now struggling to move freely in their own house. You can ensure they regain their freedom of movement by adapting their living spaces to their needs. For example, you might consider installing a lift, swapping the shower for a walk-in bathtub, and adding rails. 

Provide With the Health Support They Need

Aging is a condition that affects everyone, and its consequences are to be expected. However, over the past years, life expectancy standards have increased, also thanks to the better quality of life, improvements in healthcare, and advancements in technology. 

Since, today, life-improving devices are available, you should not think twice about using them to enhance the quality of life of your aging parents. For example, you could start by learning more about the benefits of hearing aids, walking aids, prescription glasses, and memory and communication aids. You can also increase their level of safety by using GPS and personal alarm devices. 

Discuss Living Arrangements With Them

While you might be tempted to make a decision for your aging parents, keeping the conversation open with your aging parents is a great way to safeguard their happiness. After all, this is their retirement, and it is only fair for them to be involved in the decision. 

If you have been considering opting for the services of assisted living facilities or nursing homes – and you truly believe that this is the best solution for them – present your idea to your parents. However, make sure you are doing so while keeping a compassionate tone and open mind! 

After all, they might not be of your same opinion and ask for their current home to be changed – so they can live near you and the rest of their family. 

Ensure They Can Spend Plenty of Time Outdoors and in Nature

Spending time outdoors and in nature is essential for everyone’s health – especially for older adults. When outdoors, the healing power of nature can help us feel less stressed, isolated, bored, or anxious. In the case of older people, having the opportunity of spending time outdoors is essential to break the routine and remain active. 

Whether your aging parent is now living with you, moved to assisted living facilities, or is still enjoying the comfort of their own home, ensure that they can spend at least 120 minutes outdoors a week.

Encourage Them To Find Purpose

One of the main issues aging people go through is a loss of purpose as they age. Indeed, going from their working life, daily responsibilities, and caring for others to the life of a retiree can be hard on the mind and body. 

However, they also deserve to make the most of their golden years! So, encourage your parents to find new daily activities and purpose for their lives. For example, they could take on a new hobby – such as gardening or swimming – or find purpose in humanitarian goals. For example, you might encourage them to dedicate a few hours a week volunteering for a cause that is close to their heart. 

Make Sure They Are Surrounded by a Loving Community

It is important for aging people to not feel lonely and bored. Whether your parents are still living at home or have moved to a nursing home, ensure they are surrounded by a thriving community of people that can help them make the most of their days. If you have noticed them being often home alone, consider encouraging them to join a club or take on a new hobby – these simple lifestyle choices can help them meet many new people. 

Signs That Your Aging Parents Needs More Help

There are lots of signs that can suggest that an aging parent needs more help now, from spoiled food sitting in the fridge to living in the same pair of pajamas all the time. Always pay attention to any changes that seem out of character to you, as they could suggest that more help is needed.

older people

Remember that nobody knows your parents or loved ones like you do. Something that strikes you as unusual might be commonplace for someone elses’ parents. It is helpful to know some common warning signs that may signal trouble ahead. We must acknowledge that it is ultimately best for anyone – young or old – to be supported at all times. Therefore if needed, caregiver assistance is ultimately provided. Through sites such as Caregiverlist, you can learn more about the qualifications of different caregivers in your area and ensure they meet caregiver training requirements and can provide high-quality care.

Whether you’re visiting in person or catching up through a video chat, look out for these signs. 

  1. Bounced checks, calls from collections, and late payment notices. Are they paying bills late or not paying them at all? Are they getting calls from collection companies? 
  2. Broken or damaged fixtures and appliances. Have they stopped cooking or keeping a regular meal schedule because their kitchen appliances aren’t working? Are important things, like light bulks, not being replaced? 
  3. Changes in mood or extreme mood swings. Do they act differently towards your, friends, or strangers? 
  4. Cluttered, dirty, or disorganized home. Is their home looking different to you?
  5. Confusion and uncertainty when performing tasks. Have they become unsure about everyday tasks like laundry, washing the dishes, or vacuuming?
  6. Feeling depressed or having little energy. Has their manner changed in a noticeable way? Do they seem as cheerful as they did before?
  7. Wearing disheveled or tattered clothing. Are your parents starting to neglect their appearance? Are their clothes often dirty or look worn out? 
  8. Keeping expired groceries. Is food growing mold on the counter or in the fridge? Does the kitchen smell?
  9. Forgetfulness. Do they often misplace their keys, wallets, or other personal items? 
  10. Improper medication management. Are there full bottles of prescription pills in their medicine cabinet? Are they forgetting to take their medication?
  11. Leaving the house or yard maintenance unattended. Are the weeds out of control? Is there trash piling up?
  12. Loss of interest in activities or hobbies. Have they stopped taking part in things they previously enjoyed?
  13. Missing appointments. Are they having to rearrange doctor’s appointments, or just not showing up at all. 
  14. Weight loss or poor diet habits. Are they eating a lot less or only eating prepackaged snacks? 
  15. Poor personal hygiene. Is their breath bad or do they have body odor? 
  16. Trouble getting up from a seated position. Are they finding it hard to sit or stand?
  17. Frequent injuries or bruising. Unexplained injuries could indicate falls or other accidents in the home. 
  18. Unexplained dents or damage on their car. Are they having more accidents? Are they not paying attention to their safety when they drive?

If you notice these signs, it might be helpful to write down your worries. Talk with your siblings and other relatives, or plan an elder care family meeting to start helping.