As our loved ones age, they may encounter various health related challenges that may have a profound affect on their life. Whilst some age-related illnesses may be manageable, others may require more attention, care, and support from family members.
Age related illnesses can vary – from hearing loss, cataracts and eye conditions, to diabetes, depression and dementia. All of these can strip your parent or loved one of some form of independence, which is where you can show your main support.
Try not to panic if you’ve been delivered the news of your parent being diagnosed with some form of illness. Instead, try to reassure them you will be there to support them through anything they may face. In some cases, you may need to reach for external advice from a court of protection solicitor, local care homes, and NHS services to ensure you have everything you need at hand. Let’s delve in…
Tips to Support a Parent Going Through an Age-Related Illness
You may be feeling helpless in the situation where your parent has been told they have a life altering illness, but there are effective ways you can offer support including:
Educate Yourself on the Illness
One of the easiest ways to support your parent going through an age-related illness is to truly understand the impact it has or will have on their life. This way, you can ensure you’ll know what to expect and be there for them throughout the different stages.
If the illness involves memory loss, you may want to consult a solicitor to put arrangements in place so that you can legally make decisions on your parent’s behalf if they are ever unable to. This could be with regards to their housing, financial planning, and care plans.
Foster Open Communication
Fostering open communication is one of the most important elements to supporting your parent with an illness. You can help by regularly checking in on them on how they’re feeling. If you’ve educated yourself about the illness, you should know what to expect and may be able to spot signs of any affects taking hold if they’re not being forthcoming about symptoms.
Try not to pressure your parent if you suspect something is wrong, or they’re not telling you something. Instead, be supportive, empathetic, and sympathetic in your discussions to help create a supportive environment.
Offer Practical Support
Some illnesses may take away some form of independence from your parent, such as the ability to safely drive. By offering practical support, such as offering lifts, you can ensure they help keep up routines.
Practical support can come in many forms; by learning about your parent’s illness you will know exactly where they may need support and offer it before they have to ask for help. If you’re unable to offer practical support, you can consider outsourcing. For example, if you’re unable to drive, you could always help your parent learn how to use apps such as Uber so that they always have access to a taxi if needed.
Seek Professional Support
Looking after a parent who needs support can be difficult for anyone. In some cases, you may not be able to offer adequate support yourself. In this case, you should seek professional support to help with providing care where needed.
There are plenty of resources available to help you find the care and support needed, including private services, charity help (such as AgeUK), and NHS support. Private care can be expensive to fund, but you may be entitled to financial support or free care with the NHS.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Encouraging heathy habits may not prevent an illness from taking hold, but it may slow the affects and rate of which it does. In any case, promoting good physical and mental health habits is an excellent way to support an aging parent, especially one who has diabetes.
Whilst this may seem out of your control in some ways, you can offer support such as:
- Taking small walks with your parent daily,
- Helping with the food shop, ensuring healthy options are available to them.
- Offer to cook healthy meals.
- Encourage mindful activities such as 3D wooden puzzles and crosswords.
If your parent smokes or drinks heavily, it may be worth seeking support in how to encourage them to stop. There are many charities that offer this kind of support and information to help guide you.
Make Sure You Care for Yourself
Lastly, you need to ensure you’re receiving support for yourself whilst supporting your parent. Try to create a supportive network of family and friends who may be able to offer help to you if you’re having a tough time. After all, seeing a parent deteriorate can be stressful and emotionally taxing, therefore you shouldn’t expect to manage everything by yourself.
There are many forums, charities, and online services for caregivers that may be worth reaching out to, especially if you become a full-time carer. You may even be able to claim financial support.
Supporting Your Parent Through an Age-Related Illness…
Looking after a parent who may have a life altering illness can seem a mammoth task to many. That said, showing your support in the ways listed in this article can help take the weight off their shoulders as they learn to cope with their illness.
In some extreme cases, you may become the main care giver to your parent, in which case you should ensure you have the correct support, emotionally and financially. Don’t be afraid to reach out about your concerns; there will be plenty of people going through a similar situation that may be able offer advice to you.