Like many adults, you may have a senior parent or parents facing health, financial, safety or other issues including prolonged isolation brought on by the pandemic. If so, you may wonder how to respectfully help them navigate aging for better well-being. Here are some tips to consider:
Share your concerns with close relatives. Bonding early and often over these issues can help ease the responsibility, especially when seniors reach an advanced age.
Don’t try to control the conversation. Gently bring up sensitive subjects, acknowledging their role in decision-making and asking for their ideas. To start the dialogue, you might say, “I noticed your fenders are dented, and I’m concerned that driving may be becoming difficult for you. What do you think about discussing some options to help make this easier and safer for you?”
Keep them engaged and independent. Physical, social and mental engagement helps improve brain function and can increase longevity! A growing number of seniors are now connected to the internet, so help them engage virtually. Set up social media accounts to involve them in their family and friends’ lives, locate online exercise classes for seniors, or arrange attendance at a virtual event or religious service.
Choose the right time to discuss their plans for their future. You might start by asking about where they keep their financial documents like insurance policies, wills, tax returns, investment, or banking records, in case they are ill.
Do some homework and offer information. Gather brochures about affordable or free meal services, transportation, and other community services. Check www.benefitscheckup.org for assistance for people over 55 that helps pay for prescription drugs, healthcare, utilities, and other essential items or services. Provide pamphlets about additional Medicare, Medicaid or other government assistance.
Know when to seek professional help. Is your loved one showing symptoms of extreme forgetfulness, depression/apathy, weight loss, lack of interest in eating nutritious food, etc.? Are they struggling with loneliness? Ask your practitioner for a referral to an expert or call Health Advocate to help your parent get an appointment. This may include virtual counseling.