Family is incredibly important for many citizens in New Mexico. The bond that is created between brother and sister, husband and wife, mother and son, grandparent and grandchild, and every other relationship can last a lifetime. In many cases, family members are the only people that we can depend on no matter the situation we are facing.
Investing in your familial relationships takes work. You probably try to spend as much quality time with them as possible, especially with your immediate family. But maintaining the connection with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and others might happen through infrequent visits and phone/video calls.
One of the most frightening prospects for individuals is when some of their family members start to get older. Maybe it is your parent, a grandparent, an aunt, or even an older sibling. Aging can have many effects on a person that are physical, mental, social, and emotional in nature. The question at this point becomes; how do I take care of my older family members?
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that you can invest in these elderly individuals that are a key relationship in your family. Though it may take a little extra work on your part, here are some ideas for taking care of the seniors in your family.
Encouraging Physical Activity
The older someone gets, the more likely they may be to experience aches, pains, and illnesses. This is the result of their body naturally decaying, as muscles, joints, bones, and organs start to lose their functionality and strength. You can encourage a healthy lifestyle by participating in physical activities alongside them. Maybe you can enjoy a low-impact sport like Tennis or Pickleball together. Yoga has many benefits and is a great activity for adult children to partake in with their parents or even grandparents to encourage healthy living. It is good for maintaining strength, flexibility, and even mental connection with the body.
Staying in Touch
Elderly individuals are at a high risk of mental and emotional health struggles. The reason for this is often increased loneliness. The older they get, the more they may be experiencing the loss of lifelong friendships or other familial relationships. This can make life difficult and lonely for elderly individuals. You can step into those gaps by visiting more and staying in touch. There are plenty of newer technologies that encourage better connectivity between family members, and hopping on a video call is more accessible than ever. A simple and short visit to your aging loved ones can make a huge difference in their mental health, and often will be the happiest part of their day or week. If they have grandchildren that you can bring along, even better. Interacting with younger family members is proven to improve the health of seniors as well as assist the emotional development of the child.
Openly Discuss Their Care Needs
A particularly divisive topic for some families is the care needs of older family members. When their health starts to fail, the level of care that they need increases. In some cases, this may mean adding medical equipment to their home, an in-home care specialist, or even becoming a resident in a long-term care facility. Each of these scenarios comes with benefits and risks. Aging in place may be more comfortable, but if something dangerous happens when no one is around, how long will an emergency response take? Nursing homes can provide constant care and attention for residents, but there are instances of abuse that could require a New Mexico abuse and neglect attorney to become involved. It is important to have open and honest conversations with your older loved ones about their care needs.
Help Them Engage Socially
As mentioned before, loneliness is a huge issue for elderly populations. You can help mitigate this mental health risk by helping your family member find ways to engage with others in the community. This should not serve as a replacement for family visits, but rather as another source of companionship. The senior center directory for New Mexico is a great resource to get your aging loved one engaged in social activities near them. With centers located throughout the state, you can probably find one near your family member that can help them get connected with others in the same life stage who have similar interests.
These Ideas Should be a Conversation, Not a Decision
When you consider ways to care for your aging loved one so that they can enjoy the later years of their life, it should never be a decision that you make unilaterally. Take their interests and desires into consideration. You can have a conversation with them about the best way to care for them. Maybe they prefer social visits in the home rather than meeting out in the community. They probably have opinions about their care needs as well, and a dialogue that includes them is the best way to determine a path forward.
It can seem easier to make decisions for your loved ones, especially if they are becoming more reliant on help from others. However, it is always safer to include them in the conversation to make sure they feel heard.