The golden years of a parent’s life are ideally some of the most fulfilling and satisfying over a lifetime. With employment responsibilities behind them, there is an abundance of time to spend on family, friends and personal interests. Unfortunately, mental and physical health often declines more rapidly than in younger years. Here are some actions that you can take, even from far away, to keep your senior citizen parents as healthy and active as possible so that they may enjoy their time to the fullest.
Make visiting with them a priority. If they are well enough to travel, take turns going back and forth. If the expense is a hardship for them, split the cost for their traveling. Invite them for special occasions with you and your family. Arrange visits over birthdays, graduations and vacations from school and work. Keeping in close contact with their children and grandchildren is a great joy for aging parents. If geography prevents physical contact during much of the year, use the advances of technology to accomplish this. Email, text messaging and instant messaging are all convenient and takes just a few minutes. If they do not have computer access, set them up with an email account and encourage them to visit their local library for sending and receiving messages from your family. Send handwritten letters with current pictures of their loved ones. Put together care packages and homemade gifts from the children.
If their health permits and they do not already have one, suggest your senior citizen parents get a pet. Pets are wonderful companions for older people and offer many health benefits. Petting animals reduces anxiety and lowers blood pressure. Daily walks with a dog ensures your parents get regular exercise and fresh air. Pet ownership requires responsibility which gives senior citizens a purpose after their children are all grown up and have left the nest to raise families of their own. Suggest they adopt one from their local animal shelter.
Be aware of any health issues and encourage your senior parents to be proactive in their own health care. Establish a relationship with a close neighbor or friend of their’s that lives nearby and can keep you updated on any physical changes in your senior citizen parents. Make sure you know the names and dosages of all medications they are currently taking and inquire as to if they are taking them as directed. Advise them to take vitamin supplements to boost their immune systems and remind them that a healthy, balanced diet is more important than ever. See that you are listed as an emergency contact on their identification and medical records so that you will be notified immediately if a crises occurs.
Encourage involvement in the community and with people their own age. Most communities offer free or inexpensive programs and activities for it’s senior citizens. Socializing and taking part in trips, classes and volunteering benefits the body and the spirit. Many local schools welcome senior citizens to share their wisdom and knowledge with the students. Perhaps your parent has a unique life experience that can be shared with area students.
Reading, crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles helps with agility and keeping the minds sharp. Make sure your senior parent is always stocked up with enough solitary projects and activities so boredom does not set in. Introduce them to a new craft or activity if they start to show apathy to something they previously enjoyed. A variety of interests and hobbies aids in preventing depression which can be very dangerous for older people.
You can be a powerful instrument in helping your senior citizen parents to remain active and preserving their mental and physical health, even with a great distance between you. This will help to ensure they get the most out of their golden years.