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Celebrate Senior Independence Month by helping parents remain independent

By Judi Bonilla
Latino Elders

Though February is National Senior Independence Month, and we celebrate all the gains that have been made to enable seniors to live on their own longer, the fact remains that many older adults rely on their adult children for assistance.

Often it may be due to the loss of a spouse or an unexpected health incident. When this happens, the question faced by these new caregivers is: How do you help your parents remain independent while acknowledging they may need additional support?

Remember your parent is an adult. Depending on their age 60, 70, 80 or more, they have equal amount of years and experiences. At one time, they filled the same shoes you now wear.

Talk to your parent as an adult. Share your concerns about their health, finances, or emotional well-being. Then listen to them. Let them talk about their feelings and experiences with the issues you have concern about.

Put an action plan together on how to handle a new routine. For example looking for transportation resources. Your goal is to empower your family member to make change.

Together write down your goals to support one another. For example, one of you might research, while the other makes phone calls.

Plan a next step together. Plan a walk, get together for tea or coffee, find an activity that you can enjoy together. Try a few until you find the right activity.

Find meaning in this phase of your relationship. Use this to develop your own skills in self-advocacy to retain your independence as well.

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