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How to Care for Your Aging Parents

Many adult children return home for the holidays and notice for the first time that their aging parents are not able to do as many things as they previously could perform. Often they notice the house is no longer well kept, the outdoor garden is overgrown, and old family friends have moved away. As older adults age in place here is four useful tips for helping to maintain health, wellness, and social connections.

1-    Stay in contact

Isolation causes depression,  a major factor in the declining health of older adults. As we age, it is critical to remain engaged and connected to the outside world. Thus remain connected to your older adult. Call once or twice a week and check in. Many older adults suffer through a sense of loss as they age. Thus, hearing a familiar voice on a regular basis can help them realize that they are not alone and others care for them.

2-    Visit in person

Calling and talking on the phone can never replace an in-person visit. A visit can help put a smile on your loved one’s face, and it enables you to determine how they are doing. It may be difficult to visit regularly,  but try to schedule quality time with them as they need you. If you can only see them once or twice a year, try communicating using video call platforms like Skype and FaceTime. While these applications are not as meaningful as an in-person visit, they offer the potential for connections and will be appreciated by your loved one.

3-    Hire a caregiver

Caregiver companionship is another option to consider for older adults who live alone, especially those who are homebound because of frailty or dementia. Companion care is primarily emotional support and companionship for seniors who are generally healthy and who want to remain independent at home. Most importantly, companions function as an extra set of hands, eyes, and feet to the person you care for when you can't be there. Companions can assist with meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, grocery shopping, and errands. Companions provide valuable social benefits, decreasing isolation and improving the quality of life. Warm relationships are often formed when a consistent companion is on the job -- a boon for both the companion and the older adult.

However, do not let the presence of a caregiver Companion take your place. It means the world to older adults when young people visit them.

4-    Community social gathering

Many older adults want to stay in their homes as they age. Moving comes with both physical and emotional stress, and many older adults are afraid of leaving behind beloved neighbors and a family home full of memories. Add the fear of the unknown to those concerns and a move to a senior living community can be downright overwhelming. However, the truth is that for many seniors living at home alone can be unhealthy and even dangerous. Spending most of their time at home, alone can increase their loneliness and can make them inactive.

It’s important to encourage older adults to participate in social gatherings and events, designed specifically for older people. Not everyone has a family to count on. So for tens of thousands of older Americans, the solution has been something called the Village, a neighborhood-based membership organization. Usually, the way it works is that older adults pay dues of a few hundred dollars a year. And then the village provides connections to discounted services, anything from contractors to grocery shopping to home health workers. There are also social activities. It's a lot of things you might find in assisted living except you don't have to leave your home. A Village can help make those social connections and keep an older adult physically active. It can also put your mind at ease, as you know that they are not alone.

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