The signs may appear troubling. Your aging Mom or Dad is starting to seem withdrawn, emotionally or physically. They don’t return your calls. They aren’t taking care of their home, or themselves. Something seems to be changing, but what should you do?
A recent article on the website NextAvenue.org describes one of the most important things you can do for your aging parent: getting them involved with a variety of engaging and stimulating activities. Getting Mom or Dad engaged in life, especially after the loss of a loved one or other major life change, can be vital to their health.
The NextAvenue article asks the question, “When should you make sure your parent stays engaged in life?” Click here to read this helpful piece which not only answers the question but also provides some ideas and resources to guide you. Your parent may need your help to get back into the swing of things, something that the article states “can help maintain their emotional well-being as they become less physically and/or cognitively able.”
How do you know when Mom or Dad needs your intervention? The article quotes an expert on senior services, Gwendolyn Byrd, who reminds us that “You don’t get information about what’s going on just by asking them, you get it by using your eyes and listening for what’s not being said.” Byrd also points out that you may need a geriatric assessment of your parent’s physical, mental and emotional condition, something a specialist called a geriatrician can help you with.
Once you’ve decided it’s time to intervene, you can start with a simple first step: ask Mom or Dad what they miss and what kinds of things they would like to be involved in. Then help them find the opportunities to plug in. The article suggests you start with programs at your local senior center – or, if your parent suffers from some cognitive impairment, an adult day center.
Another excellent way to get your parent back into the swing of things is to encourage them to volunteer. Volunteering helps your Mom or Dad get outside their own issues and help others while making a difference in their community. They can take pride in their accomplishments and learn new skills. The connection to others, even in their advanced years, can lead to a sense of renewal, even transformation as they put familiar skills to work once again. One final point the article emphasizes: if you can’t do all this yourself, because of your work schedule or other priorities, it’s okay to delegate. A sibling, a relative, a friend might be the one to come alongside your Mom or Dad if you can’t do it alone. And it’s fine to hire a caregiver if you need to. The important thing is to get your aging parent out and about once again. Doing so could both prolong and enrich their remaining years.
What about your retirement years? If you’re ready to start making a plan – a LifePlan – we’re ready to assist you. A fully thought-out LifePlan will answer these essential questions for your retirement:
- How will you provide for your health care?
- What housing choices are best for you?
- Are all your legal affairs in order?
- Is your family fully involved in your retirement plan?
- Have you planned to protect your financial assets and make your money last?
Developing a LifePlan doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. You’ll come away with valuable information to get your planning well underway. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for all the details. Then come to a LifePlanning Seminar – we’ll look forward to meeting you!
(originally reported at www.nextavenue.org)