Your parent has expressed their wish to continue living at home, to spend their golden years in a familiar and consistent place. But how do you help care for your elderly parent and support their desire to live at home? Most mature adults will eventually need some form of care with the activities of daily living—either in a setting like a nursing home or assisted living facility, or in their home. Health and mobility concerns may complicate the decision for many families. But know that there are steps that can be taken to give your family peace of mind and support your parent’s independence. With the growth of the home health industry, families have more options today, and senior living communities are no longer the only choice for your parent. Home might be where their heart is and where they should stay.
Tips for caring for elderly parents in their home
Planning for care needs can be difficult because you never know how your aging parent’s needs might change. The first step is to consider the types of care they may face in the future. They may need more assistance and regular visits to check on them if they live alone. Perhaps one of your parents is in good health, but their spouse needs help. You may live in a different state and just need to ensure your parent has local care and resources to lean on. Or your parent has had a recent diagnosis or a scheduled surgery that can impact their immediate care needs. Every situation and individual is unique and requires a custom care plan.
If you are wondering about the level of care your parent may need, schedule an appointment with your parent and their doctor. If you have not already, now would be an excellent time to complete the paperwork to allow their doctor to disclose medical information to you or at least one family member. During the appointment, inquire about your parent’s physical or cognitive limitations. You will want to understand if they are experiencing decreased strength, poor balance, vision or hearing loss, or confusion which could affect how you modify their home.
If you do not live near your parent, another way to determine their care needs is to consult a geriatric care manager. Geriatric care managers typically have licensed nurses or social workers who specialize in geriatrics to help your family identify needs and find the best ways to meet those needs. They work directly with families to figure out short-term and long-term care plans, find local services, and help evaluate care personnel. They are experts at assessing in-home care needs, identifying safety issues, and assisting families with solutions. Geriatric care managers charge by the hour but can be a worthwhile investment for families, especially if family members live far apart.
Research the local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to find resources near their home. Under the Federal Older Americans Act, AAAs was established in 1973 to help older adults remain in their homes. Your local AAA can help you find services, access to senior centers, and local support for family caregivers. AAA is a valuable resource to support your parent at home with services and programs nearby.
There are several benefits that come from your parent being able to stay in their home. Their continued independence will help build confidence in themselves. Often older adults lose confidence as they age and their ability to make their own decisions lessens. They are also able to stay near the friends and the community that they have built over the years and who support them. If your parent is living with Alzheimer’s or other dementia and is being cared for by a spouse or in home caregiver, the familiarity of their home can provide them comfort and peace, during what can otherwise be an uncertain time.
Caring for aging parents checklist
With a fresh set of eyes and a clear understanding of their care needs, walk through your parent’s home (inside and outside) to evaluate how to make their home as safe as possible. As you walk through the home, look for common home safety concerns:
- Uneven flooring, loose rugs, or cluttered pathways can pose a tripping hazard
- Lack of handrails in critical areas of the bathroom
- Broken lights, burnt-out bulbs, or dimly lit areas both inside and outdoors
- Absence of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or dead batteries
- Outdated electrical appliances, frayed electrical cords, or other fire hazards
Often, simple modifications can be made to the home that do not require a remodel or extensive construction. Preventative measures, like clearing clutter, adding handrails, or changing batteries, can help avoid accidents or injury so your parent can remain in their home for as long as possible.
One home area that can be overlooked is the bedroom, specifically the bed. Falling when getting in and out of bed can happen when your muscles are stiff, or the bed is too high or too low. If your parent is groggy when getting up at night or the lighting is dim, that can lead to a fall. The Dawn House bed system solves many of these problems with features that can support your parent. Underbed lighting is activated when their feet touch the floor to light the way. An adjustable height feature will ensure that their feet can easily reach the floor and support them as they sit on the edge of the bed. The patented supportive edge of the bed helps your parent move around the bed and supports them as they sit to get in and out of bed. And an optional support rail can help keep them steady and supported. In a safer bed, your parent will enjoy a better quality of life and restorative night’s sleep.
Consider Home Care
Home care is a practical option to help your parent remain independent and stay in their home. A home care aide can provide personalized care plans and one-on-one support for your loved ones to ensure their needs are met. The options for care are flexible, from coming in one day per week to more involved daily care. Home care can also give adult children peace of mind knowing that their parent is receiving proper care.
Home healthcare can help your parent in a variety of ways. Services can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your parent or both parents so that they can age in place. Examples of the support include:
- Assisting with medication management, so they take their pills on time and as directed.
- Running personal errands like grocery shopping or to the drug store
- Preparing nutritious meals for your parent
- Providing companionship and social interaction during the day
- Light housekeeping tasks and laundry
- Transporting your parent to a doctor’s appointment or appointments outside of the house
- Regular exercise and physical therapy
- Helping with the activities of daily living, such as dressing or bathing
In addition to home care, more resources are available to assist your parent in remaining in their homes. Smart technology, grocery delivery, telehealth, health tracking devices, yard work assistance, housekeeping, and many more options are available to support your parent in their home beyond one-on-one assistance. The goal is for your parent to stay happy and safe in their home. A few proactive changes, preventive measures, and outside resources can ease the stress of maintaining a home but still allow them to live at home and thrive.