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How do I help my parents feel worthwhile despite their disabilities?

Neither of them are able to do the things they used to do such as camping, gardening and watching their grandkids unassisted. I think they are both frustrated and depressed and I don't know what to do about it.
Status: Open    Apr 09, 2015 - 11:44 PM


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Expert Answers

May 12, 2015 - 08:02 AM

Have you sat down with your parents to ask specifically how they are feeling about the situation? That may help you and your parents come up with some ideas to help compensate for their disabilities. If these inabilities are relatively new, it may take time to adapt to a slower pace. Spending time with your parents and showing that you care will help to encourage them. You mentioned that they can no longer watch their grandkids unassisted. Hopefully, they still get to spend time with their grandkids, even if it is for a more limited period of time.

Many communities have adult community centers that provide activities of interest to senior citizens. Moving to an independent or an assisted living facility that provides a variety of activities could be an option. A Place for Mom can help your parents investigate the availability of such a facility in their community. You stated that your parents enjoyed gardening. Some activities, like gardening can be scaled back to helping them plant seeds or small plants in a small planter, pots, or even, a smaller area of the garden, that is easier for them to reach.

An occupational therapist can be helpful in assisting one adapt their activities when dealing with a physical or mental disability. If your parents’ conditions have changed recently, their doctor(s) could order therapy evaluations. I have seen people make remarkable improvement with the help of physical and/or occupational therapy.


May 10, 2016 - 10:24 AM

Fulfillment is an extremely important and necessary emotion, and without it, it’s extremely easy to get depressed. If your parents feel like they can help out, even minimally, this will likely make them feel better and give them a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Try to think of the things they can do. Maybe they can help you organize a drawer, shell nuts and beans, cut vegetables, or sort through files. You can also try lifting their moods by adjusting activities to their new ability level. For example, help them out with their gardening, or buy some indoor potted plants which only require watering daily. There are also many programs for the elderly; you can try to get them involved with their local YMCA. By joining they will be involved in age-appropriate activities and will also have the ability to meet other seniors.


May 08, 2015 - 08:07 AM

Changes in health status and physical abilities can be frustrating and depressing for seniors who otherwise led an active lifestyle prior to the changes. Fortunately there are resources available to seniors and their families who want to continue leading an active lifestyle as they are able. Senior centers offer a variety of social and recreational activities geared towards the senior population. You can often find classes, outings and day trips by contacting your local senior center. As for the grandchildren, it might be a good idea to set aside time once a month (or more if your schedule allows) where your folks visit your home for a meal or overnight stay where they can still interact with their grandchildren but in the safety of your home and supervision, if necessary.

Home care options are also available for seniors who are looking to spare their energy for their own pleasure. Some home care agencies offer homemaking services, lawn services, etc. You can contact a local advisor, free of charge, to see what options may be available for your folks in the area by calling 1-866-568-2989.

Many times seniors seek out retirement living as a viable option for their future. It is maintenance-free living with access to services and activities within the residence or community geared towards the senior population. I often equate it to apartment living with access to senior services for healthcare and recreation to allow a senior to maintain enough independence as they choose and is safe. Again, a local advisor can be a good start to this process.


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