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How you and your parents can make a plan for ageing
As your parents start to get older, you don’t want to feel out of your depth if crisis hits. The best way to avoid this it to speak with them about how they see their later years looking as early as you can, so that you can have a plan in place to help them live their best life.
Start the conversation early
The best time to talk to your parents about their getting older is when they’re still in really good health. While it might seem like the conversation isn’t needed, it’s so much better to get planning early so the conversations don’t have to be rushed. Starting early also gives you that time to learn about the support services that may be available to your loved ones if needed.
The earlier you start planning and talking, the more time you have to spend on research so you feel like you’re making an informed choice, rather than a panicked decision if one or both of your parents suddenly falls ill. You’ll be able to think practically and feel in control, whereas if you wait until there’s a crisis then your decision is more likely to be clouded by emotion and stress and often your choices are limited.
Be sensible with their senses
It can be tricky terrain talking about hearing or sight loss, and your parents might be the kinds of people who are too stubborn to admit the need for a hearing aid or new glasses.
The Hearing Care Industry Association Australia has revealed that only one in four people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually have one, and that people will wait up to seven years before seeking help once their hearing starts deteriorating.
Although your parents might be putting it off because something like a hearing aid will really cement their getting older, technological advancements mean that the latest hearing aids are easily charged and discreet to wear.
If your parents do want to stay at home, making sure it’s in the right kind of shape for them is important. We’re not talking a full-scale renovation, but identify and fixing any potential hazards will help prevent injuries and falls down the track. Do they need some extra lighting along pathways? Maybe there are rugs or small items on the floor that could become tripping hazards? Should you put a handrail in the bathroom or on the stairs?
These modifications won’t break the bank, and are going to give you a bit more peace of mind.
There’s no denying that as we get older our bodies will start to get a little more tired and need more attention. If your parents aren’t getting regular check ups with their GP, then encourage them to do so. If the GP isn’t convenient to get to – especially if your parents are cutting down on the amount of time they spend behind the wheel – then this is the opportunity to look for a more local doctor.
If something happens in an emergency, who should they be calling? Do they have a list of numbers? Do you know who you need to call if something happens?
Just like thinking about where they plan to grow older, talking about these things early on means it doesn’t have to be a disheartening chat; it’s more about the practicalities and staying in control. These conversations will hopefully make everyone feel more confident moving forward, rather than putting them off, so that when crisis hits you’re not frenzied and having to make decisions on the fly.
It might seem like a long way off, but it will be a hard transition for your parents to adjust to life without a driver’s license when it comes around.
One reason to think about securing a doctor that’s local for your parents is so they can still get easily to and from their GP if they can no longer drive. If there are appointments and errands that they rely on their car for, will they need to start using public transport instead? When it comes to grocery shopping, will it be better to set up an ongoing delivery service?
For the older population, loneliness and isolation are two things that can become more prevalent, so the more you encourage your parents to get out and about and stay in touch with their friends, the more they can combat those feelings.
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