Becoming Your Parents Parents

Courtesy of  wheelsandfeet.wordpress.com
by Alan Knight

Watching a loved one deteriorate, whether it is physically, mentally or both, is a very difficult process. You have wonderful memories of your parents in their prime at family dinners and outings, giving of themselves and creating memories that last a lifetime. They raised their families and worked hard to provide for their loved ones. They were war veterans, entrepreneurs, musicians, doctors, teachers, and so much more. They made major contributions to society with their work ethic and love for their family. It was difficult to imagine they would ever grow old. For that matter, you probably thought you would be young forever and always have the comfort of knowing you would always have that shoulder to lean on.

Now the roles have reversed. You are seeing changes in your parents that make you worry and even occasionally step up to take a little more control of their lives. They don’t want to feel like a burden, so it becomes a sensitive issue. It’s a fact that people are living much longer than they did in the past.  However, it’s also difficult for most people to ask for help when they need it most. Admitting they need help represents a loss of independence. This can lead to denial.  Denial is the unrealistic hope that a problem is not really happening and will go away by itself. “Denial plays a major role and signs get ignored,” says Paul Hogan, Founder and Chairman of Home Instead Senior Care.
Image courtesy of caregiveraction.org

The process of becoming the caregiver can become overwhelming, both financially and emotionally.  Whether you are prepared for this task or not, you will be faced with making some major decisions associated with their care. Most of us would prefer to allow our loved ones to stay in the comfort of their homes and studies show that 80 to 90 percent of elderly people prefer to stay at home as long as possible. You can be an integral part of giving your parents the independence they need while having some input to ensure they are safe and secure.

MAKING FOOD PREP EASY AND SAFE

As our loved ones age, preparing food can be a potentially dangerous task. Gas burners and ovens can be left on, shaky hands can lead to cuts and burns, water can be left running and so on. Under normal circumstances, accidents do happen in the kitchen. Did you know that home fires started by cooking equipment kill about 480 people a year? Much of that is preventable since it’s often due to leaving cooking equipment unattended. As our loved ones age, they become more forgetful and the likelihood of these accidents increases, which is exactly what we are trying to help them avoid.

Eating healthy is an essential part of keeping our bodies and minds in top form and to guard against illness. As people age, they often tend to choose easier methods to cook meals and that may often mean eating more canned food and frozen dinners that have little nutritional value. As I already mentioned, accidents can occur if they are trying to do too much food preparation.

A great option is home food delivery. There are a number of delivery services that can deliver healthy home cooked meals to your loved one’s door. They can also cater to the special dietary needs of their clients. This is definitely a more expensive option, but it can also be used as a safe supplement rather than the primary source of food for your loved ones.

Cook in bulk for your family and prepare portions for your parents. Thank goodness for the microwave oven. A great way to be efficient and economical is to cook in bulk. Don’t make a pot of chili that feeds four; make it so it feeds eight people and put it into individual containers to bring to your parent’s home where they can eat or freeze it. Seniors know how to use a microwave and it provides a much safer option than using the stove or oven. More importantly, they will be eating healthy, nutritional meals that you cooked, while at the same time reducing the chances of causing an accident in the kitchen.

PREP THE HOME FOR SAFETY- DON’T LET THE BATHROOM BE THE CULPRIT

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 285,000 people visit emergency rooms because of injuries suffered in the bathroom. More than a third of these injuries occur when bathing or showering.  There are many ways to make a bathroom safer for your loved ones in order to decrease the chances of falls which can be debilitating and potentially deadly for seniors.

1.      Install grab bars near the toilet and other places where one must stand for a period of time. Tile floors are slippery when wet and bathroom spaces often do not have good footing. Seniors can have issues with balance, making them particularly susceptible to falls in the bathroom.

2.      Climbing in and out of a bathtub can be an ordeal as a person ages. A bathtub in the home can be altered with safety features or even replaced with a more modern and safe version such as walk-in bathtubs and safety showers. This is an expense that is well worthy of consideration since it can contribute to the independence of older adults and give them the privacy they desire when taking care of their bathing needs.

Safety shower image courtesy of TubKing.com

These showers and tubs are literally made so you can walk into them without a climb. They have built-in seats and removable shower heads so one can sit comfortably and safely without fear of slipping. Can you imagine how independent your loved ones might feel knowing they are safer in the bathroom and are able to take of their own needs? Even better, these showers and tubs are made so anyone can walk into them without a climb. Can you imagine how independent your loved ones would feel knowing they are safer in the bathroom and are able to take of their own needs?


  
PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR MEDICAL AND PHYSICAL NEEDS

Don’t rely on your parents to remember to take their medications if they need them. Set up a system to ensure they are taking their prescribed medications. Did you know there are “smart” pill bottles on the market? They have 3G capabilities and sensors that can track humidity levels within the bottle to “sense” how many pills or fluid ounces are left inside. Amazing! That data is then sent into the cloud and can remind people via a telephone call or text.

Focus on maintenance for healthy seniors and encourage them to be active. People are living longer than ever and can live long, healthy lives and stay physically fit. Be the motivator and inspiration. Encourage them to take a walk after dinner or enroll them in your local YMCA. They often have classes geared towards seniors and they can make friends while they’re working out.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE WE LOVE

Everyone desires to age gracefully and independently. Today’s seniors have many resources that allow them the freedom to live healthy, happy and independent lives while giving their caregivers peace of mind.


I hope you found the information in this article useful. Until the next time….

 Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and my brother, Alan, who heads up Tub King, will personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.



Alan Knight is the owner of Tub King, Inc., and  SeniorBathtub.com  in Jacksonville, Florida. He has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. To contact Tub King directly, call (800)843-4231 or email alan@tubking.com.