Taking Care of Elderly Parents at Home
Aging is an inevitable part of life—but we often don’t realize how much of an impact it can have on our entire family. As parents get older, adult children often find that caregiving responsibilities fall to them. Even when parents are in good health, their needs will continue to change over time, and they’ll soon need outside support. When that time comes, there are a lot of questions you’ll want to address. Should you care for your elderly parents in their own home? Do you need to move them to your home? Is a retirement community a good investment?
Caring for elderly parents, regardless of where they live, can be overwhelming. Whether you’re taking care of your parents in your home or theirs, there are lot of variables to consider. Here are a few recommended tips:
Tips for Taking Care of Elderly Parents at Your Home
Prepare Your Parents for Change
Moving into a new environment is hard, so if you’re caring for your parents in your home, do everything you can to prepare them for the move. Have open conversations with them about their expectations and your expectations. Will they be able to come and go as they please? Will they require assistance with anything important? Discuss these things before they move in so the transition is easier for both you and your parents.
Make Safety a Priority
Especially as your parents age, caring for them will require some extra precautions. You may have to move some sleeping arrangements around to make sure your parents are in the safest place. You don’t want them to be susceptible to falls, so keeping them primarily on one level is a must. You can also install grab bars in the bathroom near the shower, remove any rugs or carpet snags that might be dangerous, and install night lights in darker places. When you’re taking care of elderly parents in your home, it’s important to manage as many risks as possible.
Consider Your Schedule
As you prepare to accommodate your parents in your home, make sure you don’t lose sight of your own schedule and priorities. If you work full-time, have a plan in place to make sure your parents can get ahold of someone during the day. It’s also much easier to experience burnout when your parents are with you every hour of the day. Make a little time for yourself to relax and have your own space.
Tips for Taking Care of Elderly Parents in Their Home
Monitor Your Parents’ Needs
When you’re taking care of your elderly parents in their own homes, you won’t be with them all the time. They’ll need you to run errands, do chores, and keep them company—but since you’re not providing constant supervision, it’s important to keep track of how much help they need when you are there. When you monitor your parents’ Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), or day-to-day self-care activities, you’ll know how much help they require. A few common ADLs to watch are:
- Autonomous Eating
- Personal Hygiene (including bathing and showering)
- Toilet Hygiene
If your parents are capable of accomplishing all these things, then taking care of them at their home is much simpler because your responsibilities will be limited.
Ask Others to Help
Even though you love your parents, it’s hard to make time to check on them when you’re taking care of them in their own homes. With that in mind, ask relatives and family friends to stop by and check on your parents when you can’t. It will give you peace of mind and relieve some of the pressure you’re facing.
Understand the Financial Requirements to Keep Parents in Their Home
As much as your parents want to age in place, it’s necessary to make sure this model is financially possible for your family. Can your parents maintain the cost of a house? Are you (or your family members) able to handle projects and repairs that owning a home requires? These are important questions to ask when you’re taking care of elderly parents at home—and you might need to sit down with a financial advisor to discuss the details.
Consider a Retirement Community for Your Elderly Parent
Caring for your elderly parents at home promotes independence, minimizes loneliness, and provides familiarity. However, it isn’t always the best choice to ensure that your parents get the care they require. One common alternative to taking care of parents at home is arranging for them to live in a retirement community that offers health services. If your parents need more care than you can provide, it’s okay to reach out for help—and a retirement community with health services options might be the best place to start!