Did you know every May is National Older Americans Month? It is an occasion to honor and celebrate senior adults across the country, and raise awareness about the many challenges they face. It is also one of the many opportunities for adult children of aging parents to give back.

National Older Americans Month first occurred in 1963. This was a time when Medicare had yet to be created and few government programs provided assistance to seniors in need. At the time, more than one-third of all older Americans lived in poverty.

Thankfully, there has been tremendous progress over the past half-century to improve the lives of Older Americans. When it comes to age-related challenges in the home, much of the credit should go to family caregivers. Many of us do not realize that today they provide more than 80 percent of day-to-day support for aging adults.

Whether you are an Older American or an adult child caring for aging parents or grandparents, let us share five personal care tips that you may be able to use when it comes to family caregiving.

1. Eating. Consider assisting with both grocery shopping and meal planning. Your assistance can relieve stress for senior loved ones with mobility issues, and provide nutritious food choices. Preparing easy-access finger-foods and pre-cooked multi-serving dishes can be helpful. Further, providing plastic cups, plates, and straws can reduce clean-up.

2. Dressing. Adult children and family caregivers can help aging parents by keeping their laundry clean and by laying out loose-fitting, comfortable clothes the night before. Buying comfortable shoes and clothes with Velcro or large zippers can help them more easily adapt to changes of clothes needed, such as temperature changes and varying weather.

3. Bathing. Bathing may require caregiver supervision, as bathtubs and showers can be slippery and dangerous. At a minimum, consider removing any throw rugs and other such obstacles to reduce the risk of falling. Adaptive bathing equipment can also be helpful, such as shower chairs and hand-held showerheads.

4. Dental Care. A lapse in dental care could lead to complicated, and painful, health issues. Make sure elder loved ones are rinsing their teeth after every meal, and help them brush or keep their dentures clean if they need assistance. Do not hesitate to ask a dentist for more specific advice for you, as the caregiver, or for your loved one.

5. Toileting Care. Adaptive safety equipment can help seniors use the toilet safely, such as raised toilet seats and grab bars.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers when you are caring for an Older American. Do not wait to learn more on our website or contact us to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum.