Caring For Your Parents? 5 Things To Prepare Yourself For.

If your parents forced you to eat healthy foods when you were a kid, kept an eye on  your finances and wanted to know that you were safe, get ready for a “Freaky Friday”switcheroo.

As parent and child age, the roles are often reversed. Before your mom or dad reaches “senior citizen” status, you need to be prepared for some changes. A study by Pew Research Center found that “the older people get, the younger they feel,” so while you and your parents might feel like you can hold off the inevitable till they actually do “feel old,” here are some important things to keep in mind.

  1. Scammers prey on everyone, but some target seniors.Make sure your parents are tech savvy enough to be suspicious about requests for money or information. AARP suggests talking to your folks to explain why the IRS would never call and ask for your personal information or how you can’t win a contest you didn’t enter. They also suggest getting rid of the landline or putting your parents onthe “do not call” list.

 2. Lack of appetite.

Loss of appetite can be a warning sign for some diseases. It is also a normal process of aging. Most people eat less as they get older. Their sense of smell is not as acute, which affects their appetite. Also, production of the hormone cholecystokinin — the one responsible for making us feel full — increases as we age. If the doctor rules outdisease as a cause of a lessening appetite, just make sure that the calories they do eat are nutritious.

 3. Don’t take the fall.

Falls are the leading cause of injury death among older Utahns, but most of them are preventable. Precautions like exercising regularly to improve strength and balance will keep people on their feet longer. So will removing obstacles and tripping hazards. The Utah Department of Health offers falls prevention classes that teach the elderly, andthose who love them, how to keep the luster on the Golden Years.

4. Declaring independence.

From toddlers to teenagers, we all crave some freedom. The same is true for your parents. Letting people do what they can for themselves, for as long as they can, helps them mentally and physically. Perhaps the best tool here is communication. Build trust with your parents with they still have their independence so when it’s time to make some of those harder decisions, they will have faith in your judgment. While you are building that trust, actively listen, ask questions about their concerns and provide workable options. Don’t avoid the tough subjects or feel like you need to cover every topic in one sitting.

 5. Seize the day.

While many only see the downside to aging, there is plenty to look forward to as well. The Huffington Post listed 19 of them, including maturity and wisdom, more stable friendships, senior discounts, etc. Many aging adults find relaxation in their older years that they might have never known while in a career or raising a family. As their child,remind them of these daily.

Be respectful of your parents, especially if you have children.Whether or not it’s intentional, you will be modeling for your children how they should care for you when the “Freaky Friday” plot twist takes one more turn in just a few years.

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by the Violence and Injury Prevention Program, with the Utah Department of Health and may be reached at  801-538-6864  or by email at vipp@utah.gov.