5 Simple Ways To
Care For Your Aging Parents
I must commend you for reading this blog, the mere fact that you are looking for ways to make your parents better must mean you are an amazing person and is truly a respectable thing. Growing old can be challenging but even more so without family support. Having worked with seniors for over a decade and over these years I have noticed the seniors who have family support fare much better and tend to be happier overall.
Seniors are the largest demographic to feel alienated and alone. A study conducted through the National Academics of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) concluded that more than one in three seniors felt lonely, and one in four seniors felt isolated. Here are some great uplifting ways to make their golden years truly meaningful and one you can be happy you were there for them.
1. Visit Them
This is the most important thing you can do. Of course, for some, this is not feasible as you may live in another city or country and for this, number 2 is just as important. Nothing boosts your parents’ sense of self-worth, esteem, and an overall feeling of being cared for than having you come over for a visit. Bring some tea or stay for tea, laugh, listen to their stories, and take their advice, ask them if they need anything, and show concern when they bring up something that is worrying them. Your simple visits can have a huge morale boost and will leave you with a warm feeling inside.
Proactive Action: If it isn’t happening, make it happen. The best way I have seen is to set a schedule for at least once per week to go and visit them. If you cannot visit them once per week try once every 2 weeks, or as often as is possible for you. Set a date recurring date in your calendar and keep to it.
2. Keep In Touch
If you cannot visit them in person as you may live too far away, a simple phone call or email is also amazingly effective. A phone call or email lets them know you care, and you are interested in what is going on in their lives. Send pictures of grand or great-grandchildren. Let them know what is going on in your lives. More importantly, call or email to ask what is going on in their lives. Ask what appointments they have, are getting out and still participating in the social group they go to, ask if there is anything you can do for them or if there is anything bothering them. Ask questions and comment on things they find important. Seniors do not have a lot of people to who they can express themselves and for the most part want someone or some people who will listen to them still think they are important.
Proactive Action: It is important to make this somewhat of a routine but also spontaneous as you want to sound glad to speak with them and that you are not just going through the motions of obligation.
3. Helping Them Plan and Keep Their Appointments
Knowing when your parents have important appointments and help them keep them is very helpful and greatly appreciated. Days can blend into each other so a Tuesday can feel like a Saturday most of the time. So, a call the day before on the day of an appointment can help to make sure they do not miss them.
Proactive Action: Keep a calendar of all their important appointments and make sure to call and help them keep them.
4. Be Aware Of the Resources Available To Them
Where to begin? If you are the executor or primary caregiver, the first place you would want to start is to look at their current state of finances. Whether your parents have planned well or not for retirement is not the question, we are extremely fortunate in Canada that we have programs that make sure all our seniors are taken care of. Drawing out a plan that takes for of their needs from year to year will be a weight off theirs and I am sure your shoulders (Retirement Planning Information, Retirement Income Calculator). Once you know where they stand it is important to get them access to the benefits and programs that are available to them. If you are entitled to your Canadian Pension Plan, you can apply for it here (CPP Retirement Pension), if you are a widower (Survivors Pension), if you have worked abroad (Pension and Benefits for Those Who Worked Abroad), and if you are a pensioner with a disability (CPP Pension Plan Disability Benefits).
In Canada, the government gives each person over the age of 65, the amount depending on income, Old Age Security (Old Age Security Program, Old Age Security Tool Kit) which should take care of their immediate financial income needs. However, if this amount is too low for various reasons, there is a “top-up” which may be applicable for you (Guaranteed Income Supplement, or Guaranteed Annual Income System Payments for Seniors,). If you are between the ages of 59 and 65 and need financial help, you can access a government-funded allowance that can help you access your (Allowance for People Aged 60-64, ). The truth is and the number growing among those who still work in the ’60s and ’70s. if this is you or one of your parents you or they be eligible for a post benefits plan which will increase your retirement income (Post-Retirement Benefits).
Taking care of their income and making sure they are financially stable is a big step to the wellbeing of your parents. After completing this step, you will have the knowledge they are financially stable and are able to weather the storm of retirement, you will sleep better and so will they. However, it does not stop here. There are other great programs that are there to support and make retirement a golden period.
Energy bills can be awfully expensive and can cause many seniors to keep their heat exceptionally low and refrain to use appliances to cut down on costs. This should not be the case, these programs can make their energy bills more manageable (Affordability Fund, Ontario Electricity Support Program, Low Income Energy Assistance Program, Pay for Delivery of Wood, Oil, or Propane Program, Home Assistance Program).
It is also important to look at other ways your parents will be able to save during this time. You can manage expenses with a property tax deferral program (Provincial Land Tax Deferral Program for Low-Income Seniors), save on taxable gas expenditures (Federal Excise Gasoline Refund Program), help care for pet costs (Pet care costs), and a multitude of other programs here (A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors. You can also see how your taxes will be different when you reach the age of 65 (Tax credits and benefits).
If either of your parents is veterans, they can also qualify for these additional benefits:
- Veteran Income Support
- Military Service Hub for Financial Information and Resources
- Health Care Veterans Benefits
- War Veterans Allowance
- Medically Related Travel Costs
- Programs that provide affordable housing,
- Ontario Homeowners Property Tax Grant,
- March of Dimes,
- Home and Vehicle modification Program,
- Dental Care for low-income seniors
- Geriatrics Care
- Colon Cancer Screening Program,
- Hearing Care for adults over 55
- Ask a Pharmacist questions
Drug Plans Link
Health Care at Home Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) for PWC Worker Support
For other great articles on this topic please visit the Independent Life website and continue to the blog section.
5. Getting Them Out Of The House
A lot of seniors can get couped up in their own homes. Plan day trips to visit a festival or to some event or place they will find interesting. Invite them to spend supper with you and the family. Holidays can be a great way to invite them to Christmas, Thanksgiving. Easter dinner.