By Regents Garden on 23/06/2020 8:00:00 AM
Taking on the care of aging parents can be a difficult juggling act. You may find yourself balancing your respect for independence with their increasing need for support as their health needs change, and it can be difficult to know when to step in. Knowing what you can expect can help you identify that critical intervention point with sensitivity. Here are how your parents’ needs may change in three key areas: nutrition, and physical and mental health.
Your parents’ nutritional needs may change as they age, as their metabolisms slow down and their risk of diseases such as arthritis increases. According to Nutrition Australia, helping them make the following changes to their diet help ensure they remain nourished:
- Using less salt. This decreases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Drinking more water. This supports many vital body functions, such as digestion.
- Limiting intake of saturated fats and trans fats. This helps lower the risk of cholesterol and heart disease.
The kind of food your parents choose may also change as they get older. Side effects from chronic medication, decreasing dental health and changing levels of physical ability may drastically impact what they eat and how. Why not start experimenting as a family now? Your regular collective meal time could be a great way to broaden culinary horizons and lay the groundwork for the changes in diet that may be needed later.
Encouraging your loved one to maintain their physical fitness as they age will help them enjoy the benefits of a vital body and mind well into their golden years.
While it may be some time before you’ll have to accident-proof the house to compensate for an increased risk of accidents and falls, you might need to encourage some changes to your parents’ existing exercise regime. They may need to slowly start transitioning to lower-impact exercises that compensate for the natural physical changes that accompany aging, such as decreased bone density and loss of flexibility. Encourage them to follow an exercise programme that includes walking, swimming, stretching, and strength and cardiovascular exercises. Some activities, like a cardio-focused aerobics class, may also be a great way for your loved one to make lasting social connections.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental and neurological disorders account for 6.6% of the total disabilities reported globally in older adults. Alongside increased risk of illnesses like dementia, your parents may also be at higher risk of depression as aging can lead to an increased sense of isolation, for instance as their friends move or pass away. Helping your parents avoid social isolation by encouraging them to volunteer somewhere or join a hobby circle is one way to support their sustained mental health.
Caring for your aging parent as their health needs change is a challenging task. To offer some help and guidance, we’ve created The Essential Guide To Caring For An Elderly Parent. To download a copy click here.
Regents Garden is a leading aged care residence in Perth that offers a vibrant social calendar and a range of health and wellness facilities. Contact us to schedule a visit or to learn more about how Regents Garden can help you care for your parents’ changing physical, mental and nutritional needs and ensure they enjoy the best of what the senior years have to offer.