Aging parents’ health : 6 tips to stay healthy

How can you give your parents healthy life? There are many steps you can take to ensure your aging parents’ health and well-being, even if you live far away. For example:

Share your concerns with your parents. talk to your parents openly and honestly. Knowing that you’re concerned about their health may give your parents the motivation they need to see a doctor or make other changes. Consider including other people who care about your parents in the conversation, such as other loved ones, close friends or clergy.

Encourage regular medical checkups. If you’re worried about a parent’s weight loss, depressed mood or other signs and symptoms, encourage your parent to schedule a doctor’s visit. You might offer to schedule the visit yourself or to accompany your parent to the doctor — or to find someone else to attend the visit. Ask about follow-up visits as well.

Address safety issues. Point out any potential safety issues to your parents — then make a plan to address the problems. For example, perhaps your parents could use assistive devices to help them reach items on high shelves or to help them stay steady on their feet. A higher toilet seat or handlebars in the bathroom may help prevent falls.

Consider home care services. If your aging parents are having trouble taking care of themselves, perhaps you could hire someone to clean the house and run errands. A home health care aide could help your parents with daily activities such as bathing and dressing. You might also consider Meals On Wheels and other community services. If remaining at home is too challenging, you might suggest moving to an assisted living facility.

Contact the doctor for guidance. If your parents dismiss your concerns, you might call the doctor directly. Your insights may help the doctor understand what to look for during upcoming visits. Keep in mind that the doctor may need to verify that he or she has permission to speak with you about your parents’ care. Likewise, you may need to sign a form verifying that you have your parents’ permission to discuss their medical information with the doctor and his or her staff.

Seek help from local agencies. Your local agency on aging — which you can find using the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging — can connect you with services in your parents’ area. For example, the county in which your parents live may have social workers who can evaluate your parents’ needs and put them in touch with pertinent services, such as home care workers and help with meals and transportation.

Sometimes aging parents won’t admit they need help around the house, and others don’t realize they need help. That’s where you come in. Remind your parents that you care about them and that you want to do what’s best to promote their health and well-being, both today and in the months and years to come.

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