Happy National Caregiver Month to all amazing Caregivers!
Today I turn 27 and in 3 days, my mother celebrates her birthday. I am excited about being able to share another birthday with my mom, and it means so much more when we can celebrate our birthdays together. One thing that does not escape me though is the realization that my parents are aging and at one point, my siblings and I will have to begin preparing a plan for the care of our parents. In 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double its estimated population of 43.1 million in 2012. The baby boomers are largely responsible for this increase in the older population, as they began turning 65 in 2011.3 By 2050, the surviving baby boomers will be over the age of 85.
A large part of our West African culture is the understanding that our aging parents are our responsibility and no one else's. Just as they cared for us as children, caring for them is a form of showing them that we understand their sacrifices enough to make the same. But with parents who are very driven, independent and passionate, I understand that there will be challenges.
Every scenario crosses my mind and allowing my parents to age with dignity is incredibly important to me. I am prepared to welcome any or both of them into my home as soon as it becomes necessary to do so, but I also understand that allowing them to experience their independence for as long as they need to is important for them.
There are great ways to offer our aging parents the independence they want, while offering the helping hand they need.
Encourage Healthy Aging by Fostering Independence Encouraging independence can be scary when we consider that it actually means letting go in some areas. Refusing to do so, however, can create stress for the family, according to Dr Geeta Nayyar.
Offering independence does not mean letting go and walking away, it simply means allowing our aging parents to retain a sense of dignity. Allowing them to cook their own healthy meals, encouraging an active lifestyle, and to remain active within the community.
There are also great tools to simplify the lives of the elderly,
Creating a Safe Environment by using a medical alert system is also a great solution. There are many age related accidents that can occur while you are away. Ask those who are available for help, if you have siblings, encourage one another to check in remaining aware of each other's schedules. If you do not have siblings, speak to friends or even neighbors.
Although grab bars and handrails are important, there are new dangers out there for the elderly,
many of them are hard to prepare yourself for. Speak to your parents about helping them to review their emails, mail, and phone calls for predators. According to Truelink Financial, Seniors lose $36.48 billion each year to elderly financial abuse.
Staying Connected is not only important because of the joy it brings to elderly parents, but according to JAMA Internal Medicine, it is linked with living a longer a life. Remaining in contact will allow you to remain aware in their emotional, and physical wellbeing.
Loneliness can be detrimental for someone who is older than 60, and all it really takes is a phone call and a few visits when possible.
If you are finding it difficult to do it all alone, ask for help and speak with your parents. Maintaining clear and open communication will help you to make the best possible decisions for your parents.