Depending on the age of your Mom and her personality, the subject of providing help as she gets older may be quite sensitive. Easing into ways to help Mom may be the best option all the way around. Someone just entering their 60’s, for instance, may still consider themselves young and actually still be in a caregiver role for her group of friends or volunteer opportunities. On the other hand, a mom in her 90’s may need more help than you know.
So, what are some basic ideas to begin helping while ensuring that Mom still feels independent and self-sufficient?
- Communication – Keeping in touch is the key at any age. Dropping by or picking up the phone for a conversation can put a smile on anyone’s face. “How was your day?” “Did you do anything fun?” and “What are you working on today?” — those types of questions that create dialogue and sharing are priceless. Spontaneous calls or visits can make a day special. Just be sure the conversations don’t turn into a Q&A session of “What did you eat?” “Did you sleep well?” or “How are you feeling?” It’s not that those questions aren’t important but mix it up.
- Safety – Consider whether it’s time to suggest some additions to the home to create a safer environment. Safety handholds for the shower/bath, rails for all stairways and entrances, and non-skid mats, etc., can help mom preserve her independence and keep her home safe and secure.
- Help Around the House – Periodically, ask if there are things that need fixing and make arrangements to do them yourself or have them done. Some things get harder to do as we age — from opening a jar to getting under the sink to check on a leak. Offer to help with housekeeping or perhaps suggest having someone come in to clean on a regular schedule.
- Encourage Activity – Aging doesn’t mean sitting down and keeping still. Encourage and join if possible in activities mom enjoys. Being busy doing things we enjoy keeps us all young at heart. Whether it’s hobbies, exercise, volunteering, gardening, whatever fuels your mom’s spirit — help her continue those activities.
- Be Part of Her Life – Being loved and needed are crucial elements for us all. No matter her age, mom took care of you once upon a time; now, it’s your turn to care for her. Enjoy your mom! She’s special just because she’s yours!