One of the things about ageing is that your parents age too and with that comes all sorts of considerations. I think most of us would freely admit that even if you love your mum and dad with every fiber of your being you don’t want them living with you and you don’t want them going into residential care until it becomes the only alternative. My mother had a hip operation last year and even though she’s only 65 I worry about her. I’m lucky in that she has a brilliant next door neighbour as her best friend and that keeps some stress away but there are also other ways of reducing some of the worry.
1. Ring Ring
Even if they don’t want it, make them have a cell phone. Just a cheap one with basic functions that isn’t complicated. Make sure it’s easy for you to demonstrate how to use it – my mum was a scientist nearly all her working life but she still struggles with the remote! The other battle is getting them to remember to take it with them wherever they go. Making sure the phone is working and is in credit should be on your list of things to check each visit.
2. Forewarned is Forearmed
It might be a bit of a struggle but I ask mum to let me know when she’s going anywhere even if it is with aforementioned neighbour lady.
3. Safety First
Something that many of us probably don’t give enough thought to is whether our parents live in a safe home. I think as we age we tend to become sentimental about our homes and possessions and maybe the electrics in our 25 year old toaster aren’t really that good or the handrail down to the basement has always been wobbly. Have a routine maintenance check of anything that could conspicuously cause an accident. I’m not advocating paranoia but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Talking, Talking, Talking Happy Talk
Are you parents happy? Call me daft but I’m convinced that being happy makes a huge difference to quality of life and happiness contributes to overall well-being. To me, that means one less thing to worry about and one less thing contributing to other worries. If mum and dad isn’t content, work out if there’s anything you can do to help. Alleviating their stress reduces your own.
5. Visiting Time
If you don’t live too far away, you should make regular visits. If spending time with mum and dad is tedious for long periods then make many short visits as it’s far more palatable. Also, unless you’ve already got an established routine, vary the day and time of your visits. This allows you to see them undergoing their daily life naturally at all times of the day, meaning you can spot any potential problems.
Do you know what is going to happen when your parents get too old to competently look after themselves? If you sit down and have a conference about it, it might just save a lot of heartache and possibly family infighting and acrimony later on. If you approach it in the correct manner it will not be an offensive subject. You should tackle all the tricky issues at the same time. Where are they going to live, even have a choice of residential homes if that’s going to be an option, what kind of burial and service, have they made a will - these are all questions to be addressed.
7. Action Stations
Follow some of the tips above. It can at least take away one of your headaches.
It’s not about constantly keeping tabs which impedes freedom for all of you but about you having a level of comfort that mum and dad are ok and also they know, without doubt, you care and are looking out for them.
Top Photo Credit: The James Kendall Of The Pistoleers