Grandmother feeling youthful listening to music
As our parents age, it’s easy to assume they can’t do certain things anymore. And while you may want to spare your retired mom the burden of hauling a 50-pound bag of dog food home from the store, there’s much more to helping an aging parent than doing everything for them.

Here are five ways you can help aging parents feel younger.

Help Them Stay Engaged in the Community

A sense of purpose is one of the most powerful tools in the fight against isolation. It’s natural for social circles to get smaller as we age, but helping your parent to stay engaged in the community at some level is a big help. Many organizations around the country and even the greater NYC area help pair seniors with volunteer opportunities. Look for weekly activities with a social group: whether it’s game nights, book clubs, a service project or some other activity it’s great for everyone to have a reason to get out of the house and get things done!

Identify When to Help at Home (and When NOT to)

Some home chores become tedious, difficult or dangerous while others are soothing, satisfying, or provide a sense of accomplishment. The key is to help remove the tedious chores only.

Say, for instance, your parent is prescribed blood thinners. Meal prep that involves a lot of peeling or cutting would be an opportunity to offer help but laundry may be a good opportunity to leave well enough alone.

In this case, help could be as simple as buying different groceries, subscribing to a service that delivers all of the prepared ingredients needed for a meal, or having someone come to the home to help with ingredient prep.

Every case is different, but maintaining as much normality as possible is key!

Teach Them Tech That Will Empower Them

Don’t worry about teaching your parent about every new tech toy out there. If they’re tech-savvy great, but if they aren’t… just focus on the tech that will be empowering for them. That might be learning how to use Uber so they don’t have to hail a cab. Maybe it’s how to video chat with a specific app so they can stay in touch with their family. If they prefer groceries to come to them, maybe it’s learning how to set up and use something like PrimeNow.

Put an Emergency Plan in Place

No one wants to think of the worst-case scenario, but if you have a plan in place, everyone can be a bit more at ease. A good emergency plan includes knowing your parent’s preference for care including things like the doctors and facilities they like, if they’d like extreme measures taken (or not), and how they’d like to proceed if they can’t live independently anymore (either for the short or long term).

Programs like CDPAP (the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program) are one way to provide in-home care to those who have a medical need for it.

Make Healthy Choices Easily Accessible

This really goes for everyone, not just seniors! It’s human nature that often the easy choice is the choice we make. Which means it’s important to ensure your aging parent has easy access to healthy choices. If they like walking down the block to get the paper, you may not want to set them up for delivery. If they’re not interested in cooking a balanced breakfast, helping them find an easy, tasty meal replacement shake or bar could be a good solution.

If you or a loved one is in need of help with the activities of daily living so they can continue to enjoy living at home, the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program may be a good solution. Special Touch is proud to be a fiscal intermediary for this program and a trusted support system for families in need of in-home care in the Greater NYC area. Enroll in the CDPAP program here.

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