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Helping Your Aging Parents Stay Independent Longer

As your parents age, it can become difficult to balance their quality of life with their changing physical capabilities and care needs. This issue is compounded by the fact that many seniors don’t want to place a burden on their adult children — and, likewise, many adult children lead busy lives and may not have the time or know-how to take on the role of caregiver. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to protect your parents’ independence. Follow these guidelines to get ideas and tools you can use to plan for long-term care needs and help them maintain their independence for as long as possible.

It All Starts at Home

Mobility, access and safety are three of the biggest factors in aging adults’ long-term in-home independence. While staying in their current home may seem like the best, most desirable option, there are risks to consider.

Younger people may take it for granted, but just getting around the house can pose a challenge for some older adults. One in four Americans over the age of 65 will suffer a fall this year — preventing injury from falls is key to making sure your parents can stay independent longer. Be sure to clear obstacles and loose rugs from walking areas, and think about replacing slippery surfaces with nonskid flooring.

Covering sharp corners with soft foam could also help prevent serious injury from falls, but it’s far from a foolproof solution. While it will help mitigate the bumps and bruises that can become a nagging issue for seniors, there’s no surefire way to make a home completely safe. To reduce the risk of a life-threatening scenario as the result of a fall, insist that your loved one carry a cell phone or emergency pager at all times.

Senior man holding his grandchild while looking out a window

When you suspect your parent or loved one is showing signs of age-related dementia or other memory impairments, it’s critically important to check in frequently. Ask yourself and others close to them if they’re forgetting major things, like daily medications, names and important dates. Look for major changes in behavior, attitudes, emotions or personality — these can be leading indicators that your loved one is at risk.

Local Support and Other Resources

If your parents need daily, hands-on assistance, look into some of the public resources available in your area. Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services offers local seniors hot meal delivery through Meals on Wheels, wheelchair-accessible transportation, help from in-home caregivers, legal advice, Medicare counseling and more. And some of these services are available at no cost to qualified seniors, so be sure to read the requirements closely.

Adult day care can be a big help for seniors with working children — especially for older adults with significant memory impairment who can’t be safely left alone during the day. Many will pick up and drop off your loved one, giving you more time to run errands, while ensuring that your loved one is in a safe environment. There are a number of well-reviewed adult day care establishments in the Salt Lake City area, but you should visit them first and make your own assessment.

If you’re interested in doing some independent research on aging in place and other subjects in senior home care, take a look at this helpful guide from the National Institutes of Health. It walks through some more of the most common challenges faced by elders who stay at home, and offers a list of government and local resources that can help your aging parent.

Senior woman and daughter hugging and smiling

Think About Senior Living Options

At first, it might seem both simpler and cheaper for your loved one to stay in their home. But it’s hard to beat the comprehensive care and peace of mind you’ll find at a senior living community. And when you consider home upkeep and the high cost of daily in-home care, senior living can often be more affordable. Additionally, life in a retirement community can do a lot to combat loneliness and isolation, which are significant risk factors for older adults’ overall health.

Assisted living and memory care at The Ridge Cottonwood and The Ridge Foothill provide a supportive environment for Salt Lake City area seniors in a community full of genuine camaraderie. And with our maintenance-free, modern apartment homes in a variety of configurations, enhanced by a suite of refined amenities, the Ridge communities are perfectly designed for an independent, enriched lifestyle.

Regardless of their current or projected health needs, now is the time to start this important conversation with your parents or other aging loved ones. Retirement and financial planning shouldn’t wait until the last minute — and even if they don’t think they’ll need long-term care, there’s no better time than the present to prepare for the future.

Whether you’d like to discuss the unique benefits of The Ridge Cottonwood and The Ridge Foothill communities, or just want to learn more about looking after your aging parent, our team of senior care specialists are here to help. Reach out using the contact form below and we’ll be in touch shortly.