Last Updated on January 18, 2022
Nobody likes to admit that their parents are getting older and are, therefore, less capable of doing everyday tasks, such as cooking or going to the toilet.
However, it’s crucial to recognize the signs that your aging parents need help and understand how you can help them to adjust their way of living. Even if they aren’t receptive at first, know that it can sometimes take time; after all, just as you need to accept that they are becoming older, so do they.
Often, they can be in denial and worried that their independence will be taken away completely, which makes inspiring the necessary changes to their life that much harder.
However, no matter how long it takes, eventually, your parents will come around to your way of thinking and see that what you are doing is for the best. Starting with this guide, you will be able to understand exactly what you need to do to initiate the process of bringing positive change to your parents’ living environment.
What Are the Signs That Your Parents Need Help?
Before you start finding ways to inspire your parents to make changes to their home, you first need to assess what exactly your parents need help with. In order to do this, try and spend as much time with them as possible, both at home and out and about.
Stand back and observe everything they are doing. Just make sure that your parents don’t know you are doing so, as they might act defensively and hide a problem they do, in fact, have.
The more time you spend with your parents, the easier it will be to notice the common problems that are occurring.
Are they struggling to climb the stairs, for example? Or get back up from the armchair or couch they are sitting on? You might even notice that they have unexplained bruising, weight loss, or lack of personal hygiene.
All of these are signs that your parents need to reassess their living situation. It might be that they are struggling to make their way to the bathroom or kitchen so they can wash themselves or prepare food properly.
If they are starting to experience mobility issues, then slips, trips and falls are more likely to happen. Therefore, if you notice that your parents have unexplained bruising, this could be the reason why.
It’s not just physical problems you need to keep an eye on, but also household problems. Keeping up to date with household chores, such as washing the dishes or clothes, is a challenge for most people when there is so much more to do, and often these tedious tasks can be pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.
However, if you start to notice that an increasing number of dishes or clothes are starting to pile up, or the house is slowly becoming more and more disorganized, you need to ask why this is.
Are your parents having a difficult time standing in one position for too long to do the dishes? Are they unable to reach the top cupboard where they store certain cleaning items?
If possible, you should also try and assess their household bills situation. This could require you to ask for permission to look over their documents to see if they are keeping up to date with everything they need to pay. You should never look without their consent, even if they are your parents, and you are just trying to help.
While you are assessing your parents’ needs, be sure to look out for extreme mood swings as well as confusion. The older we get, the more likely we are to experience dementia and loneliness.
The earlier this is noted and diagnosed, the better. While dementia can’t be cured, this could be the reason why your parents aren’t washing; they simply forget to do so.
Diagnosing the disease will enable you to plan effectively so that even when they do forget to wash, they can have particular reminders to do so around the house.
What are the Next Steps?
Following on from assessing your parents, you will want to begin putting things into action. There are several solutions to dealing with these issues. Sit down with your parents and discuss exactly what you’ve noticed after observing them.
As touched upon earlier, your parents might not be too receptive to hearing all this about themselves. It can cause a number of feelings and behavioural changes in them that can make it difficult to move forward.
Take note of these changes. Regardless of whether they are scared and in denial or are even shutting down, you need to constantly reassure them that it will be OK.
No matter how much they push you away, you need to show how much you all still love them. You need to first recognize that this is nothing personal against you.
Your parents have to go through significant acceptance that they are not as young as they once were. If they are worried that their independence will be taken away completely, for example, sit down and explain that this is not what you want at all, and there are options available for them.
Stay in Regular Contact
In the days that follow this initial conversation, it is vital that you reach out to them by dropping in or giving them a phone call. You could even arrange a day out with them to show that nothing has changed regarding how you feel about your parents. This caring approach should help them come to terms with the fact that they need to make some changes.
What Can You Do to Inspire the Change?
Once they have come to terms with the fact they are aging, you need to find ways to inspire the change. This is so that they are involved in the process as much as possible. By inspiring them, as opposed to implementing the changes yourself, they could be more willing because of the control they have over it.
They are several options that you can motivate them with regarding their living situation:
- Living in an independent care home
- Offer for them to move in with you
- Recommend renovations to their home
What If They Don’t Accept These Ideas?
If they are still giving you the cold shoulder and won’t take on board any of the ideas regarding these changes, you should get in contact with their doctor or a therapist to help you through this next stage.
Letting them discuss the problem with someone outside of the family could reveal exactly why they don’t want to make changes.
It might be that they are embarrassed by the situation, or they don’t like the strain they are putting on the family, even if they know they need to make changes. It is common for many older people to feel like they are a burden to their own family.
Assure them that all you want is for them to be safe and continue living their life, just with a lot more ease. All of this may take time, however. Unless the living situation is causing concern and is classed as an emergency, you are able to wait until they are ready.
Listen to Them
Inspiring the ideas, no matter how long it takes, will eventually spark a conversation where your parents feel able to voice their opinion. It’s important to listen to them about what they want at this point to avoid going backward.
You might find that, after having more conversations, they are very keen to stay in their own home but don’t understand what renovations you are suggesting they implement.
What Changes Can You Make To Their/Your Home?
Whether your parents want to stay in their home or have made the decision to live with you, there are several changes you can make to the home that won’t change their living arrangement too drastically but will help with several areas.
Rather than completely renovate their house so that your parents’ bedroom can be downstairs, you can simply make it easier for them to get up and down the stairs.
When it comes to picking out a stair lift, a company such as Age UK, are able to manufacture and design a stairlift that will suit both straight or curved staircases. Stairlifts are made with ease of use in mind, so your parents won’t have difficulty using it.
If they are having difficulties walking to and from their front door, installing a ramp outside is a cost-effective way of making the short walk much easier on them.
Instead of having a normal bathtub or shower, suggest turning their bathroom into a wet room. With a wet room, the entire room is exposed to water without the risk of structural damage. Your parents will no longer have to heave themselves out of the bathtub and risk slipping over.
If your parents are struggling a lot with their mobility and require a wheelchair, then widening the doorways in their home is a recommendation that will completely alter the way they can get around their home with ease.
Other Changes to Inspire:
You could also convince your parents to accept some help in the form of a cleaner who comes in every other day to keep the house in order.
Meal Delivery Service
Even with changes to their home, it still might not change the fact that your parents are struggling to prepare proper meals. Instead, you could arrange for a meal delivery service to come every day. This ensures they are eating healthy meals.
Inspiring change for your parents might not be the easiest of tasks, but it is completely possible if you understand your parents’ feelings and recognize that they need to be included every step of the way.