Having an aging loved one, such as a parent, living far away can be a difficult and stressful situation. You want to do everything you can to help them thrive and be happy, but you know that there’s only so much you can do from a distance. However, chances are there is actually more you can do than you think. These four questions are useful starting points for improving your senior loved one’s life and can help you sort out what your priorities should be.
Age In Place Or Living Facility?
Most seniors want to age in place, which means that families often assume that this is going to happen without giving it much thought. However, aging in place is not always the best solution, and can be particularly problematic for seniors who live far away from their families.
A senior living facility can provide various crucial services, from help with medication to social groups, help with transport, and food provision. It may seem like an expensive option, but in many places, it is possible to fund assisted living by selling a house. If your loved one is willing to make this move, their daily life can be significantly enriched while leaving you safe in the knowledge that they are being taken care of.
It is not an easy decision, and there are many factors you need to consider before making it. This article by CNBC introduces the main financial and social factors you need to think about before discussing a possible move with your loved one.
Do They Have A Social Group?
Socialization is absolutely essential for good mental health for people of all ages, but isolation and loneliness are worryingly common among the elderly. As a long-distance caregiver, you need to make sure that they have an active social life, with a group of friends and acquaintances that they can rely on for company.
Remember that the reasons why seniors are not going out are not always obvious. A Place For Mom has some great suggestions about factors which could be leading to isolation and how to overcome them. You can also help by suggesting groups and activities that they might be interested in their area, especially if they are not comfortable searching for these online.
Can They Engage In Healthy Habits?
One of the biggest worries that plague long-term caregivers is not knowing whether their loved one is doing the basic things they need to do to keep themselves healthy. While you can’t necessarily make them engage in healthy habits like exercise and a balanced diet, you can make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
For example, buy them some basic home gym equipment that will allow them to do small amounts of strength and cardio training whenever they have time. If you know they struggle with eating healthy meals, sign them up for a meal delivery service that brings healthy food to them.
Are They Being Mentally Stimulated?
A mind that remains active through learning and constant engagement is likely to stay sharp and focused for much longer. The mental decline that often accompanies old age isn’t always a result of the aging itself, but of the lack of stimulation that comes with many people’s retirement lifestyles.
Doing the same things over and over again, even if they are challenging, is not enough. Learning new skills is the best way to keep the mind engaged, which is why you should encourage your loved one to seek out classes and new challenges. Social activities, such as a crafting group or a bridge team, are best, but you can also introduce them to the vast world of online tutorials and puzzle games.
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