It's been a long time since you've lived in your parents' home. In fact, you have a home and a family of your own now. But as your parents age, you might wonder more and more often what you can do to help them ease into old age while staying happy and healthy. Fortunately, there are a few great ways to do just that.
Get Active Together
One of the best things you can do for your aging loved ones' physical and mental health is stay active together. Walking, running, cycling, and even dancing are excellent and fun ways to stay in shape and spend time with your aging parent. And when you consider the fact that out of 11 different physical activities studied in the New England Journal of Medicine, dancing was the only one tied to a lower dementia risk, that dance class is likely a great option. This could be an especially good activity if dementia runs in your family. Not to mention that there are dance classes geared towards seniors that you can participate in together.
Teach Them Technology
In our digital age, technology is one of the greatest ways for people to stay connected and make new connections. Teaching your aging parents how to use social media not only gives them an outlet for expression, it makes it easier for them to stay connected to you and to make new connections with similar hobbies and interests. This is also an excellent opportunity to get your kids involved. Who knows social media and smartphone technology better? The simple act of teaching your aging loved ones how to video call can help them feel more connected to technology and to their family.
Spend Time Outside
Cabin fever can be a major plague on your aging parents' mental health. Getting outside by itself has been proven to improve stress levels and even short-term memory. But spending time outside with your loved one could help amplify those effects. Considering that at least one in five homes is within a half-mile of a park, there's no excuse to let your loved ones sit inside all day. Now that it's warming up outside, it's prime walking season! It may even be fun to take your aging parents to an outdoor food event or festival with the whole family.
Start Looking for Senior Living Communities Together
While you might want your parents to stay in their own house forever, it can be an unrealistic expectation. There's a common misconception that seniors must require assisted living services before moving into a senior living community -- that's just not true! Senior living facilities include independent living communities and are designed for seniors aged 55 and older. Your parents can still be fully independent and live in a senior community. The key is to start looking for the perfect community together. Getting involved in the process lets your aging loved ones know that you care about their well-being and about staying in frequent contact with them. Consider looking at communities where you can visit as a family and participate in community activities together. In addition, this means you and your aging loved ones are ensuring there's a plan for their future care.
Keep Up With Their Regular Interests
Just because your parents are getting older doesn't mean they've lost interest in hobbies they love. If your parents love birdwatching, but getting out of the house alone is becoming difficult, make a day out of it with them. Maybe they can teach your kids how to do it! Showing interest and making an effort to ensure your parents can still do the things they love can go a long way in helping them age happily and healthily.
Whether your parents are 60 or 82, it's important to make sure you're thinking about how you can support them as they grow older. Simple things like the ones we discussed above can make all the difference in the world. Not to mention, they can be excellent family bonding activities for everyone at home.