It’s not easy getting old, as the saying goes, and it can be even harder to watch your parents age. Helping parents transition into the later years of their lives can be a delicate matter, but there are ways to help them ease into an elderly stage and cope better with challenges.
Carol Lavin Bernick, former executive chairman of Alberto Culver, navigated this type of life transition with her parents. In her book, “Gather As You Go: Lessons Learned Along the Way,” Bernick offers tips to give and get joy while preserving your parents’ dignity in addition to wisdoms on business and leadership, philanthropy, dealing with tough times and being a working mom.
For example, consider these tips and ways to aid aging parents:
Music can be a helpful gift – try loading a music player with a playlist of your parents’ favorite songs. Old movies can also spark conversation. Host a luncheon for some of their best friends and make their favorite treats. They may be housebound, but there are still ways for them to interact.
Adjust to Physical Changes
Reading materials could require larger-than-normal print, and a magnifying clip-on screen for a computer can be helpful as well. Serving foods that are easier to cut can make eating a simpler process. Keep an eye on weight and nutrition and try to find someone who will make a house call for haircuts.
Encourage older relatives to write (or dictate) their thoughts on financial tips, military service, business success, valued life lessons and, of course, the stories of how they met their spouses. Make a family tree together and try creating a photobook with old and new pictures. Share news about family members’ relationships and accomplishments, which might bring back personal memories.
Consider the Little Things
Surprise your parents with a few new pieces of clothing for a thoughtful gift. Laminate a list of their medications and their doctors to keep with you in case of emergency and provide a copy to your parents and any other caregivers. Create a contact list on your parents’ mobile phone to help them easily reach family and friends without needing to search. If there are young children in the family, try bringing them by for a visit – their energy and smiles may help brighten the room.
Find more tips to assist aging relatives at gatherasyougo.com.
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