According to a ten-year study conducted by the AARP , more than 77 percent of older adults aged 50 and older want to live their vintage lives at home. While this choice is great for our older loved ones, it presents a new task for adult children who can't afford a professional in-home caregiver.
Now that you're taking on the role, caring for aging parents can seem overwhelming before you start or even early in your journey. However, with some pointers and tips for caring for the elderly at home, you'll find that it is straightforward, rewarding, and can create a great experience for your elderly parents in their remaining years.
Simple Caregiving Tips For Taking Care Of Elderly Parents At Home
If you've been designated the family caregiver for the elderly in your home, here are some helpful tips to make the process easy and rewarding:
1. Understand How Much Care Is Required
The first step to caring for your aging parents is to understand what their needs are. Don't jump in headfirst without first understanding the level of care they need, as this can make it more challenging than it needs to be.
Understanding how much care is required will help you provide tailored care that addresses safety and health concerns. It also helps you prevent burnout, ensure peace of mind and independence, and avoid financial strain.
To do this, create a care plan by listing daily, weekly, and monthly care tasks that your parents need to get by and ensure you factor in health challenges, if any. Don't forget to factor in long-term care and evaluate your availability in the long run.
2. Be Realistic About How Involved You Can Be
Taking care of your parents in old age goes way beyond running errands and cooking meals. It encompasses physical, mental, emotional, and health-related help and requires a lot of commitment, dedication, and time.
Evaluate your schedule, hold that up against the needs of your elderly loved one, and be honest with yourself about how much help you can provide and if this is something you can handle all by yourself every day. Understand that you're already doing a lot by choosing to be there for them, and it's okay not to be 100%.
If you can't handle it all by yourself, there's no harm in asking for help. Speak with a family member who can provide some help or hire a respite care personnel or agency to fill in for the periods you may not be available.
3. Arrange For Home Modifications
Caring for an elderly parent at home requires certain changes in the home. As much as you want to be there for them, they also want to live independently, comfortably, and safely, and that's why they're not considering a nursing home.
Some home modifications you can consider to make the home safe and accessible are:
- Bathroom modifications like grab bars, non-slip floors, raised toilet seats, and a walk-in shower
- Kitchen modifications like lower countertops, pull-out shelves, and accessible cabinets
- Wider doorways and hallways
- Stairlifts or ramps
- Lighting and safety features
- Emergency response systems
- Aesthetics and comfort
Some of these tasks might require the help of a home care expert to provide valuable insights into the necessary modifications based on your parents' specific needs. They can also recommend assistive devices.
4. Understand The Financial Requirements And Assistance Options
Taking care of the elderly can be financially demanding, especially if you're opting to do this full-time. To provide care for your loved one at home, you must consider your finances and how much caring for an older adult costs. Consider some government financial aid so you don't have to take on too much of the financial responsibility.
If you're taking care of an elderly family member, there are some financial perks you might want to know about. You could potentially get some tax relief by claiming your elderly relative as a dependent or deducting medical expenses that your public health system doesn't cover.
And if you're looking after a veteran, you may be able to qualify for VA benefits.
Don't be ashamed to ask family and friends if you need assistance with the elder care services you're offering to your beloved parent.
5. Prioritize Activities Of Daily Living (ADL)
It is true that only the body ages. The mind stays young forever. This is the case with many adults who are aging at home. Although they require assistance, they still want to retain their dignity and sense of independence by carrying out daily living activities like self-feeding, bathing and showering, personal mobility, dressing, personal hygiene, using the toilet, and more.
If your aging senior struggles with mobility, you can offer to do some of these tasks for them but ensure they can carry out many of these tasks themselves.
6. Prioritize Self-Care And Your Mental Health
If you're caring for elderly adults at home, you must understand that health problems are common. While catering to your elderly parents and the care they'll need, understand that your physical, mental, and mental health are also a priority.
Older adults are more prone to bacterial infections and certain transmissible viruses that you may need to be wary of. You want to provide care for them without harming your own health or infecting them by mistake. The plan is to make it safe for everyone involved.
7. Don't Let Caring For Aging Parents At Home Take Over Your Life
Caring for your parents in old age is a demanding task that can take your focus away from your personal care. You don't want to experience caregiver burnout, as it can make you give up on the good work you've done so far.
Find a respite caregiver or your local area agency on aging at home to help you keep them at home for as long as possible while remaining independent, safe, and peaceful. Make time for yourself, invest in your happiness, focus on your career, hobby, family, etc.
8. Look Out For Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues in older adults are some of the most pressing concerns in-home care providers face when caring for an elderly person. It's crucial to learn how to spot signs of mental health challenges like dementia, anxiety, depression, and psychosis.
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) , older parents may also suffer from cognitive deterioration, behavioral health disorders, or confusion states as a result of physical disorders or surgical interventions.
Don't forget your mental state as well. You need to be in great mental health to be able to help your parent with companion care.
What Are The Responsibilities Of Caring For Elderly Parents?
Caring for elderly parents can involve a wide range of responsibilities, and they can vary depending on your parents' health, needs, and circumstances. Here are some common responsibilities associated with caring for elderly parents:
- Healthcare Management
- Personal Care
- Household Management
- Financial and Legal Affairs
- Emotional Support
- Safety and Home Modifications
- Legal and End-of-Life Planning
- Respite and Self-Care
- Documentation and Record-Keeping
- Long-Term Planning
Taking care of your elderly parents can be a demanding and emotionally challenging role, but it can also be deeply rewarding. It's important to assess your parents' specific needs, involve them in decision-making, seek support when needed, and balance caregiving with your own well-being to ensure the best possible care for your loved ones.
How Do You Care For Aging Parents When You Can't Be There?
You can care for your aging parents without being present by hiring professional caregivers, scheduling regular visits, and engaging in frequent communication.
You can also start by going over the long term care needs of your aging parents to help you understand how much help they need now and plan for future needs when the time comes.
Caring for aging parents from a distance can be challenging, but with careful planning, the right resources, and a supportive network, you can provide valuable assistance and ensure their well-being even when you can't be physically present.
Plan For Aging Now That You're Strong
These tips for caring for elderly parents are possible only in a perfect world where your children are willing to dedicate their lives and time to caring for you. For a guaranteed future, working with an aging-in-place agency to secure a Life Plan At Home (LPAH) is your best bet.
As you enter your 50s and 60s, it's the perfect time to start planning for aging, both for your own well-being and to ease the burden on your loved ones. Planning for aging ensures that you maintain your independence and quality of life in your later years.
The benefits are limitless and can include:
- Maintaining Independence
- Reduced Burden on Family
- Financial Security
- Access to Quality Care
- Legal Protections
- Peace of Mind
- Better Quality of Life
- Preventive Health Measures
Work with Kendal At Home to secure your future. Speak with our membership advisor, and let's discuss a brighter, more peaceful, and more independent older age for you or your beloved senior.