Help, my parents are getting old already!

If you are somewhere between 35 and 50 years old, you have probably thought  already once or twice about your mom or dad getting older. It might have been when you noticed it was difficult for them to bend enough to pick up something they’ve dropped onto the flour, or when they could not stretch enough already to take off something of the higher shelf, or perhaps when one of them almost fell over when tripped on a threshold, or on a not so perfectly laid tile on the pavement.

And, you are right-it brings a lot of possible problems, if you are not prepared, along with them. Knowing what you can expect and getting ready for it might make all the difference. More than ever, your parents will need the support and love of you and other family members. Especially if they are younger elderly who just started to experience difficulties in their everyday life. At that time, you probably have little or none experience with creating safe living environment for seniors. However, you should think in advance.

First of all, you need to understand what a tremendous frustration for them can be no longer having the mobility and independency they once had. They are at a vulnerable stage of life and they might even face multiple health issues on top of lacking part of physical abilities, which they very often do not recognize, or do not admit. But, you are here to face the issue.

Start with observing. The most obvious change can be noticed in walking. Is it less stable than before? Do they seem to be slower now? A normal walking speed should be close to two steps, i.e. above a yard in a second. Anything less might indicate gait difficulties which in turn could possibly lead to falling over. Falls are the most frequent reason of severe injuries at an older age and bones are less likely to heal completely, or it is a very long process. There is also a psychological disadvantage, as the fear itself of falling can also cause at least a discomfort, or even fear when going out of the house.

Observe also standing up from a chair-does it seem a bit challenging? Or it requires a push by upper limbs? Sitting down is more like a drop in, then a smooth movement? Would it be easier with a support of a walking cane, or perhaps even a walking frame?

After having an active way of life, it is pretty hard to accept the need of any sort of aid. The walking cane, or a frame even more so, for instance, associates with old age, declining capability, which people are not always ready to accept. Therefore you might need all your tact to let your seniors make a decision about obtaining any means of aid, yet be decisive enough to make them understand the need for it. It may be uncomfortable for both parties to talk about it, but think about the importance of wellbeing of your loved ones as they are getting older. If you approach the issue with love, it usually becomes easier for them to accept it.

Another point to keep in mind: retaining as much independency as they can is extremely important, from both physical and psychological aspect. Elderly people usually find it very difficult and even humiliating to be forced to accept another person’s help with their everyday life tasks, ranging from putting on socks to getting in and out of the bathtub or shower. So, if you make it possible for them to do everything by themselves, by providing the correct means of aid (dressing, bathing, eating, walking, bedroom, lifting and even memory aids, for example) they will retain their independency and their feeling of completeness, usefulness. Therefore, you might need to gradually implement some more aids and noticing these needs-the sooner, the better for everyone. Try to thrive always for quality means of aid, as safety and self-confidence of your parents is at stake. Also, your piece of mind.

You’ll also want to think about some activities, both physical and mental, so your dad and mom would have healthier and more fulfilling lives. What it will be, depends on their current needs, which you will need to recognize. We all have lives and tasks we have to attend to and sometimes it can be challenging to cover everything. We may find ourselves in an unusual role of taking care about our parents as it used to have been vice versa for such a long time. In time, though, you will come up with creative ideas and we’ll be covering some here in later posts, as well.

The more you know, learn about what you can expect-the easier you will understand, act and cope.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post. It makes complete sense to prepare ourselves for this stage in our parents’ life but sometimes it’s something you want to ignore as much as they do. It’s hard to see parents starting to struggle but it’s good to know that there are things we can do to help.
    My mum is almost completely blind but refused to use a cane because it made her feel old. We finally managed to get her a leopard print cane which she will use.
    It’s not an easy thing to accept but you’re right, it will be better for everyone if we do accept it and prepare for it early.
    Thanks again.

    • Kerryanne

      Thank you for stopping by and reading my thoughts. Yes, I couldn’t agree more-it is hard to accept the fact of our beloved parents getting to the stage where they need help, after being the pillars of strengh for us our whole life. Therefore it really is important to be prepared for the time when it becomes reality. If any of my writing could help in realising this, it was already worth of doing it.
      Wishing all the best to your Mum and thanks again.

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