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10 Ways to Spend More Quality Time with Your Aging Parents
Sometimes it can be hard to figure out how to pass the time with your aging parents, especially if they aren’t as active as they once were — but nobody wants to just sit at the table and watch paint dry, either. If you aren’t sure what to do with your elderly parents the next time you get together, here are 10 ideas to help get the inspiration flowing:
Teach them about technology.
If you live far away from your parents, then connecting with them via the phone or computer is the best way to stay in touch. If your parents aren’t the most tech savvy, then they will probably need some help from you figuring out how to send text messages and accept video calls. While this will take some work on the front end, it’s so worth it to be able to connect with your parents even when you can’t visit in person.
Make time for more frequent visits.
It’s easy to let visiting your parents fall off your to-do list when life gets busy. If you live close by, try to arrange a get-together at least once a week so that you can check in on them and the state of their house as well. You don’t have to do anything fancy — you can just have coffee or go for a walk around the neighborhood (just make sure they wear the best shoes for swollen feet to prevent falls). You can also do one of the other activities on this list if you want to shake things up.
Attend social events with them.
Getting out of the house can feel like an insurmountable chore for seniors, especially if they have problems with dressing themselves in post-surgery clothing or driving a car. Offer to help them get ready and transport them to and from the event so they don’t have to worry about it. If they’re still independent enough to drive themselves, they might still benefit from going shopping for adaptive clothing that will make it easier for them to get ready, such as shirts with magnetic closures and front closure bras for seniors.
Ask them to share their favorite memories.
How much do you actually know about your parents’ lives before they got married and had kids? If the answer is “not much,” then ask your parents to share their favorite memories from their childhood and young adulthood. This is a great way to keep their memories sharp and learn about your family history as well, making it a win-win for both of you.
Explore your family history.
Speaking of favorite memories, if you enjoy playing the amateur genealogist, then you might like exploring your family history beyond your parents’ generation. When coupled with family documents, tools such as Ancestry.com can help you trace your roots back past a couple of generations. You can also consider getting a DNA test to get a rough idea of your lineage, though the accuracy of these tests is sometimes debateable.
Volunteer for charity together.
Many older adults find a lot of meaning in volunteering their time and skills for charitable organizations, especially after they retire and no longer have to work full-time. If your aging parents have non-profits that they like to volunteer for, offer to join them and turn it into a family event. If you have kids, this is a great activity to get them involved in, too, so they can spend quality time with their grandparents and learn about the importance of giving back to the community at the same time.
Participate in their hobbies.
Many older adults have hobbies they like to pursue, whether they’re been doing them for decades or just picked them up post-retirement. If you’re unsure what else to do with your aging parents, offering to let them teach you about their hobby is always an excellent idea to have in your back pocket.
Cook or bake a family recipe.
Food brings family together, and your family almost certainly has special recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Cooking or baking these recipes together with your parents is the perfect way to learn how to make them while spending quality time together. Make sure to write the recipes down so that you can share them for many generations to come!
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Exercise with them.
Exercising is one of the best ways to stay healthy and fit as you age, but it can be tough for older people to get into an exercise routine if they’ve never done it before. Suggest that you all exercise together, whether that’s going to a class at the gym or putting on an exercise video at home. Having an accountability buddy will help your parents stay on track with their new exercise and also allow you to keep an eye on them so they don’t accidentally overdo it.
Plan a vacation trip together.
Many older adults plan to spend most of their retirement years traveling to all the places they never got to visit in their younger years, so chances are that your parents have several destinations on their bucket list. See if you can plan a vacation together to an exciting location that both of you want to visit. Not only is this a fantastic way to make memories together, but it will also give you peace of mind that your parents aren’t traveling alone.
Have you tried any of the suggestions on this list? Got other ideas for activities to do with aging parents? Let us know in the comments below!