Supporting our parents as they age is a privilege, but the journey to ensuring their later years remain comfortable can be filled with questions and unknowns.
Building a health and support network around your parents preserves their independence, helps them stay connected with loved ones, and attends to both their physical and mental wellbeing. This isn’t just a choice; it’s a smart strategy for keeping overall wellbeing intact, especially later in life.
While assuming the role of an informal caregiver is commendable, it’s important to recognise that it’s not always the best solution.
Australian Unity Wellbeing Index research shows that informal carers with more time intensive caring commitments had lower personal wellbeing, and higher mental distress and loneliness than non-carers.
It’s crucial to acknowledge the potential impact on your own wellbeing, emphasising that at times, bringing in professional assistance may be the wiser choice.
While we strive to support our parents’ health and wellbeing, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But if you’re looking for a place to start, we’ve got some tips to help your parents thrive within the comfort and security of their own home.
Promoting a vibrant and independent lifestyle for your parents within the comfort of their home starts by identifying the factors that are most important to their health, safety, physical, mental, and social wellbeing.
Engaging in open dialogue about their healthcare needs, the things they love to do most, and any new challenges they’ve encountered can help you identify where a little bit of extra support could make a big difference.
Here are some practical tips to enhance your parents’ overall wellbeing:
Stay physically active: It feels good to move! Encourage regular exercise through activities like walking, swimming, or joining fitness classes such as shaking out in a dance class. This routine helps maintain mobility, strength, and overall health. Leading Home Healthcare provider Australian Unity suggests that for a more personalised approach, consulting with a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist is a great way to get an exercise program tailored to specific needs. These professionals can design a program of physical activity and movement to improve strength and balance, making daily life easier.
Keep mentally engaged: Encourage classic cognitive exercises like crossword puzzles and reading to keep their minds sharp. Additionally, there are lots of mobile apps available which support brain training and new language learning. Some local libraries also offer free classes to help acquire new skills, such as painting and knitting, which is worth exploring. This balanced approach ensures a well-rounded and stimulating experience for their at-home lifestyle.
Nurture social connections: As we age, it can be harder to maintain connections with family, friends and social networks. By finding a trusted companion or organising transport, your parent doesn’t have to miss out on catch-ups with friends, social group outings or activities at their local club. Many home healthcare providers, like Australian Unity, offer transport, companionship, and group social activities and the good news is, services may be funded through a government Home Care Package, subject to eligibility.
If family are far away, consider facilitating video calls or Zoom sessions, especially with grandchildren, to combat isolation and enhance social wellbeing. Reconnecting with past community groups is also a great way to prevent social isolation.
Promote a healthy diet: Good nutrition improves wellbeing. Check-in to ensure your parent is having balanced, nutritious meals with a focus on whole foods, fruits, and vegetables.
If nutrition is a concern, home healthcare providers like Australian Unity can organise a regular meal delivery service so your parent can enjoy tasty and convenient meals. Their dieticians also have a wealth of knowledge and may be able to recommend a meal plan tailored to the needs of your loved one.
In addition to supporting these lifestyle choices for your parents, it’s important to explore other essential factors such as:
Ensuring home safety: Sometimes simple modifications, like a ramp or rail can make all the difference to how safe your parents feel at home. Australian Unity recommends considering a thorough home assessment by an Occupational Therapist who can prescribe assistive and adaptive equipment and advice on managing daily tasks to prevent falls and injury.
Managing health at home: Staying on top of your health doesn’t always have to mean a trip to the doctor. According to Australian Unity, many people choose to proactively manage healthcare conditions with home visits from community nurses, who offer services from wound care to catheter management.
Assisting with daily tasks: Whether it’s assistance for a special occasion or ongoing support to prepare for the day ahead, help is available through home healthcare providers. Support can be provided in various aspects of daily life, including showering, dressing, grooming, assistance at mealtimes and more.
This support not only promotes independence but also ensures a comfortable and well-maintained living environment.
Offering respite opportunities: Explore respite services for times when a break is needed, providing an opportunity for you, your parents and their other caregivers to rejuvenate.
By integrating these lifestyle tips with available services, your parents can enjoy a fulfilling and safe lifestyle while maintaining their independence at home.
One of the benefits of engaging a home healthcare provider like Australian Unity is that government funding can help ease the financial aspect of these essential services.
If your parents are eligible for a Home Care Package, they can benefit from Australian Government subsidies for home support services, allowing them to receive care in the comfort of their own home.
Recognising the complexity of home care funding, Australian Unity’s friendly team can assist you and your parents to get started by requesting an assessment through My Aged Care, and help you understand what to expect throughout the process.
Of course, if you’re not interested in going through the assessment process, or need urgent support, services are also available on a pay-as-you-go basis.
If your parents are ready to begin services, Australian Unity will match them with a dedicated Care Partner who will work with you all to co-create a unique healthcare plan. This starts with building a deep picture of your parent’s health needs and lifestyle goals, so that they can recommend the right services to help your parent live their best life at home.
In addition to its care partnering expertise, Australian Unity takes pride in their extensive team, comprising over 3,000 care workers, nurses, and allied health clinicians who together deliver a high quality, reliable service to thousands of customers each day. As some funded home care services are subject to eligibility and availability, it’s recommended that you reach out to a trusted provider like Australian Unity to understand the services you may be able to access.
If you have a loved one who could benefit from added assistance to thrive comfortably at home, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Australian Unity team.
By using home care services, your parents can receive the support they need, lightening the load for their own children. This way, you can focus on spending quality time together rather than feeling overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities.