Aging is part of life, and it is inevitable. All of us will have to go through old age at some or the other point in life. Old age is a challenging stage of life for many people, and it needs to be handled delicately. Many of us might be having elderly parents or in-laws or grandparents in our life who need assistance. They have spent their lives on our well-being. Just to see us smile and be happy, they would have sacrificed their sleep, money, energy, time.
We can never repay our parents for what they have done for us. In Ramayana, we come across Sravana Kumara, who takes good care of his blind parents and fulfills all their wishes. He even fulfills their wish of going on a pilgrimage by carrying them on his shoulders in baskets. If we carry our parents entire lifetime on our shoulders like Sravana Kumara did, it would still be insufficient to repay our debt to parents.
The smallest thing we can do for our parents is to take good care of them when they are in their old age. It is our responsibility to ensure that they are comfortable and are taken good care of. It is not only a responsibility but also a small opportunity to express our gratitude to them.
So how to take care of them? Below are some pointers.
10 pointers for elderly care:
- Communicate openly: Elderly people desire human connect, and they look forward to conversations. Communicate with them openly about their needs, wishes, likes, and dislikes. Yes, life is hectic with many activities to do. But prioritize your time and be available to talk to them. Conversations keep them happy and make them feel cared for. It does not matter what you talk about and how much you talk. The only thing that matters is regular communication.
- Provide comfort: They might have special needs because of aging and various health issues that come with aging. Take care of these needs and provide them the comfort they need. Sometimes, they might not ask as they don’t want to burden their children. Proactively, look out for such needs they might have. They deserve these little comforts for the years of sacrifices they have done for us. Make sure they are comfortable.
- Understand their world: Old age is a huge shift in one’s life, and sometimes, it’s difficult to come to reality with it. Lack of strength, age-related health issues, loss of independence, side-effects of medicines are some problems faced by elderly people. These issues make them cranky, irritated, depressed, and at times, they may lose temper. They go through mood swings. Before judging and labeling them, understand their pain and their world. Empathize with them when they behave unreasonably.
- Give space: Give them their space and freedom to live life on their own terms and conditions. Let them live as per their wishes. They will have different routines, wake up times, sleep times due to medicines, and various factors. They may not feel comfortable to follow the routines that work for young people. So, don’t try to change them. Let them be as they want to be.
- Respect their wisdom: They would have seen many challenges in life, and they may not discuss with us all the challenges they went through. They would have gained enormous experience and wisdom through their life’s journey. At some point in the past, they were like us how we are today. They might have had similar fears, insecurities, uncertainties in life and would have learned to rise above them. Respect their wisdom and see what you can learn from them. Ask for their suggestions, and make them feel valued. Consult them regularly on various household matters.
- Don’t burden them: An elderly person cannot do household chores like cooking or cleaning home or taking care of grandchildren. It’s a huge burden on them in old age. Don’t expect any kind of help from them. Don’t give them any responsibilities because they cannot handle them in old age. Their bodies don’t carry the strength they had in young or middle age. They have done enough in their young age. Learn to manage life and home without depending on elderly people in any way.
- Engage them: People in old age might not have the energy and resources to engage themselves. Plan their entertainment and engagement. If they love reading books, buy them the kind of books they love to read. If they enjoy watching a movie, take them out for a good movie. If they love traveling, arrange for a good tour. Do what you can do to engage them and keep their spirits high. Fulfill their dreams and wishes, which they could not fulfill themselves during their young age due to responsibilities.
- Accept them: In old age, elderly people behave like children. They resist any kind of change and like to stick to only what they know. Sometimes, they might be rigid in their views and actions. Accept them as they are. It is tough for anyone to change thinking after a point of time in life. So, don’t force your opinions or viewpoints on them.
- Be financially prepared: Old age is the time where age-related illnesses set in. So, elderly people will need medical assistance, and this needs money. Plan your finances properly and be financially prepared to meet these medical expenses.
- Introduce them to spirituality: Spirituality helps a person to accept life as it is and to trust in divinity. The greatest thing you can do to your parents is to introduce them to spirituality and to help them learn meditation. Meditation helps them release fears, stress, emotional pain, and hurt feelings of years. It helps them experience bliss and oneness with the divine. This is the best gift you can give to your parents. If you are not into spirituality, then its time to embrace spirituality and introduce it to your parents.
These are some pointers on how to take care of elderly people. After living a life of independence and strength, it is tough to depend on someone. But that’s how old age is for many people. Only very few people can stay strong and independent even in the 70’s and 80’s. So, empathize with them and take good care of them. Even if we do all the above things for our parents, it is still insufficient to express our gratitude for our parents, and we cannot repay our debt towards them. We can only make an attempt in thanking our parents, but we cannot actually thank them because their role in shaping our lives is equal to the role played by the divine. That’s why scriptures said – Mathru Devo Bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava.
Wish you and your family love and peace!