It’s not something that we like to think about often, but everyone can experience changes to their mental health, including your parents, who might be getting up there in years. There are several changes that come in later life, from the loss of loved ones to changing living situations that can be tough on them. But there are ways to help manage those changes and ensure their quality of life as best as possible.
Make sure they have community
One of the widest spread threats to our elderly population is that of isolation. We can lose friends, and experience family moving away, and our social dynamics can change a lot as we get older. Isolation is a huge detriment to anyone’s mental health, leading not only to depression and stress, but it even increases the chances of developing conditions such as dementia. Spending more time with your parent and helping them find a social circle through things like local hobby clubs can do them a whole world of good.
Physical health is good for mental health
One of the changes that can affect us all as we get older is that it becomes a little harder to stay in shape, it’s easier to lose mobility, and tougher to keep muscle strength. To that end, you should look at the ways you can help your parents stay healthy, such as finding exercises you can do with them (even if they’re light exercises) and making healthier meals to share with them. Feeling physically unfit can affect one’s self-esteem, and can lead to exacerbated health outcomes that can impact their lifestyle, such as disability from injury.
Consider their ability to live independently
You might have noticed that your parent has a harder time taking care of their needs than they once used to. It can happen to everyone and, at some point, it’s likely they may not be able to safely take care of all of their needs. When that time comes, it may help to look at hiring a nurse or working with an elderly care facility to make sure that their needs can be taken care of. You can make sure that they’re able to maintain their quality of life as good as possible, while still doing what they can independently.
Make sure they’re getting help when they need it
An experience that a lot of children of elderly parents have is that their parents might not go to the doctor as often as they need to. As we get older, it becomes more important to keep up with routine health checks. Worsening health might be affecting your parents’ mental health, but things like medical anxiety are very common. Offering your assistance, such as transporting them and going to doctors’ appointments with them, can be a huge help to some.
Of course, helping your parents with their mental health requires their co-operation, and you can’t do everything for them yourself. However, starting the conversation, checking in on them, and being more present can be of a huge help.
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