In the US, over 40.4 million people act as caregivers for an aging loved one aged 65 and over, assisting with day-to-day activities, self-care, and personal finances. But beyond providing passive care, there is a lot that you can do to help your aging parents live a longer, healthier, and independent life.
Learn what you need to know about supporting the health of an aging loved one in the sections below – but, if you are unsure how to get started, keep in mind that the first thing to do is always to partner with a specialist in the field.
Ensure They Have Mental Health Support
While aging does increase the chances of health and mobility issues, in most cases, it is not age that matters, but the mind and body do! Ensuring that your aging parent receives the help needed to maintain optimal mental health can have positive consequences on their health as a whole and life quality.
Make sure to speak to a therapist who specializes in the field, and be ready to deal with the stigma that still surrounds seeking mental care.
Invest in Appropriate Care for Their Health Needs
While the aging process is unique for every person, there are some common challenges that you might need to address. Indeed, over time, your aging parents might lose mobility, strength, and flexibility, which can make injuries and accidents more likely.
If you have noticed that, for them, living alone could be risky, consider providing them with professional live-in care. A specialized nurse won’t just help them keep safe, but can also boost their health and wellbeing with specialized programs.
Work With a Fitness Specialist
Keeping fit and strong is important at all ages, but, according to studies, it is especially so as we age. Indeed, regular physical activity can reduce the risk of cardiovascular and bone diseases, as well as chronic conditions. What’s more, an active lifestyle can help your aging parents live independently for longer and stay mentally young.
However, before deciding on the type of exercise and physical activity that is right for your loved one, consider working with a specialized trainer or physician who can create a fitness plan suited to the needs and limitations of each client. This is particularly important to avoid injuries!
Ensure They Receive All the Nutrients and Vitamins They Need
While working with a nutritionist is essential, you should monitor your parents’ diet. While they might begin to struggle with day-to-day activities like cooking, it is important for them to receive all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed to maintain or regain health.
Ideally, their diet should focus on natural, minimally-processed, local, and whole foods that will support their health as they age.
Promote Socialization and Stimulating Activities
With aging, your loved ones’ cognitive abilities might begin to decline, and it isn’t uncommon for them to experience episodes of forgetfulness. While this is often a normal part of the aging process, there is a lot that you can do to ensure that they keep as mentally young as possible. Great activities to enjoy together include reading, exercising, playing board games, and completing crossword puzzles!