Aging in Place: Resources and Tips for Caring for Elderly Parents at Home
The day has come. Instead of your parents taking care of you, the roles are reversed. You’re preparing for them to move in with you so they can age in place.
This is an uncharted path for you and your loved ones.
You’re hoping you’re making the best choice for everyone involved. But where do you start? How do you know if you can handle caring for more family members, taking on more tasks, and still making time for yourself?
Understanding logistics, how to care for your elderly parents at home, and what you can do to provide a safe environment is the best place to start.
Follow along as we touch on these topics and provide resources for caregivers and seniors.
Table of Contents
- The Logistics of Caring for Elderly Parents at Home and How To Protect Yourself Along the Way
- 4 Tips on HOW To Care for Your Elderly Parents at Home
- 4 Tips for Keeping Your At-Home Elderly Parent Care Plan Sustainable
- 3 Resources for Caregivers Who Are Caring for Elderly Parents at Home
- Understand That Caring for Elderly Parents at Home Isn’t Always Possible — Signs You Should Pay Attention To
- Senior Services of America: Providing the Best Possible Care to Your Elderly Parents & Your Family
The Logistics of Caring for Elderly Parents at Home and How To Protect Yourself Along the Way
Knowing whether caring for elderly parents at home is the right decision for everyone involved requires a lot of thought and, sometimes, hard choices.
Maybe your parents always wanted to age in place, but living in their own home isn’t possible. Maybe you’ve agreed that moving your elderly parents into your home is the safest route to take.
No matter why you decide to do it, understanding the physical, emotional, and financial logistics that come into play when caring for an elderly parent at home can help make the decision a little easier.
4 Tips on HOW To Care for Your Elderly Parents at Home
#1: Assess How Much Care Your Parent(s) Needs
It’s vital that you understand how extensive some aspects of your parents’ care routines can be. Do they just need help with things like making meals or running errands?
Maybe it’s more complicated. Ask if providing care for your parents at home could involve:
- Medication management
- Assistance getting in and out of bed or getting in and out of the bathroom
- Helping them walk
- Helping them get washed and dressed for the day
- Cooking and feeding them specialized diets
#2: Be Realistic About What Care You Can Provide
You’ve established just how much care your parents need — now you have to set realistic expectations for yourself.
You’ve had this idea that you can do this on your own. Your parents did it for you. It’s your turn to do it.
Sometimes, doing everything for your parents just isn’t realistic. How much physical care do your parents need? Can you maintain your lifestyle while helping them adapt to their potentially changed lifestyle after moving in with you?
Do you have children? How much time in your week is spent providing for their needs? Do you need help with appointments? Do you need someone to come in a few hours a day to help with your parents’ activities of daily living?
Be proactive. Set your expectations, know what you can and can’t do, and set boundaries for yourself early.
Understanding what your parents need vs. what you can assist with is one of the most important things you can do to prepare everyone for this significant change.
If you take on too much, you may find yourself dealing with severe caregiver burnout, leaving you unable to care for others or yourself.
#3: Create a Care Plan
Once you understand how much care your parents need and how much you can handle, make things easier for everyone by creating a care plan.
While your care plan will look different than a care plan a hospital or care facility would create, your entire family will benefit from a thorough care plan.
A caregiving plan provides insights on what to do for:
- Nonmedical needs
- Emergencies — who to contact, where to go, etc.
- Arranging and providing outside support
- Avoiding scheduling issues
- Medication management
- And more
The goal is to increase organization and communication with your parents, healthcare teams, and outside support while also decreasing stress levels.
You can never be too prepared. Talk with your parents’ healthcare team if you’re unsure of what to include. They can be a great resource to set everyone up for success and safety.
#4: Make the Home as Safe as Possible
Making changes to your home to accommodate your parents’ needs is a step that you may be worried about. You don’t want your home to look like a hospital, but you also want your parents to be safe.
It’s a fair concern and a big step to take.
Or, maybe you’re just unsure how to make changes to your home to make it safer for your parents.
Use resources like this checklist from the Centers for Disease Control to figure out ways to make your home a safer place.
Some safety precautions you may need to take include:
- Adding grab bars near toilets and showers
- Making sure living spaces are well-lit
- Ensuring floors are slip resistant
- Removing any trip hazards
- Placing phones in easy-to-reach places in case of falls or emergencies
4 Tips for Keeping Your At-Home Elderly Parent Care Plan Sustainable
#1: Share the Responsibilities
Some days you feel like you can’t even get your everyday tasks done. You barely have enough time to make your own doctor’s appointments. How are you going to successfully provide care to someone else?
Sharing responsibilities is the best way to:
- Avoid caregiver burnout
- Make sure everyone is receiving the best care
- Prevent any form of neglect — to anyone in the family
Do you have siblings or older children who can help you take care of your parents?
Come up with a plan. Split the responsibilities.
Is someone available during the day to help your parents get to their appointments? Is someone available to help with weekly grocery trips? Who can be in charge of picking up medications?
#2: Ask for Help When You Need To
Don’t wait until your cup is empty to ask for help.
Caring for others in your home is hard, even if your parents are the ones you’re caring for. Don’t be afraid to address your concerns with family and healthcare providers.
Remember, you’re only human. Gather a community to help when it’s needed.
If you’re already splitting the responsibilities and you’re still feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, reach out to support groups online or in your area.
Some of these support groups may help provide meals, while others may offer support and resources to make your caregiving journey easier.
#3: Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is an important step in helping distinguish your needs vs. the needs of your parents.
Whether it’s because they’re offering unsolicited advice or asking for more than you can give, establishing boundaries can help keep your relationship strong and your cup filled.
If you’re struggling to set boundaries, consider:
- Communicating your limits and boundaries with your parents
- Slowly making changes
- Trying to hear the concerns of your parents and family members
- Seeking professional help
Remember, for boundaries to work, they have to be realistic. If you need one night to yourself a week, establish a routine that allows you to do that. Will family members come to your home?
Maybe your concern is that you just don’t have enough time to do it all, but you have promised yourself that you’ll maintain your job. It isn’t something you’re willing to give up. That’s a realistic boundary.
Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed with the amount of cleaning you have to do. Is everyone comfortable with hiring someone to come clean twice a month?
Your parents may also have boundaries you aren’t aware of. They may feel uncomfortable being in your space.
Talk with family members, learn about your resources, and understand your boundaries and your parents’ boundaries. Do what you need to create, communicate, and maintain your boundaries.
#4: Consider Respite Care
One of the hardest things to manage for many families who are caring for elderly parents at home is balance.
Everyone needs a break sometimes, even from caring for elderly parents.
Vacations, long workdays, and crazy schedules can make it hard to care for elderly parents.
One of the best, often underutilized, resources families have is respite care.
Respite care facilities in your area may offer short-term stays for weeks, or even months at a time, while others may offer respite care as a “drop-in” opportunity where seniors can come for a few hours a day.
3 Resources for Caregivers Who Are Caring for Elderly Parents at Home
#1: Eldercare Locator
As you transition into caring for your elderly parents at home, the Eldercare Locator is one of the best places to start.
This free national service from the Administration on Aging provides resources that enable seniors to live independently in their communities while offering support to their caregivers.
Eldercare Locator provides information on:
- Support services
- Elder rights
- Health resources
- Transportation options; and even a
- “Caregiver Corner” that’s full of resources for caregivers
#2: Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a network of non-profit, community-based programs which provide seniors in their communities with the support they need by providing …
- Nutritious meals
- Quick safety checks, and
- Human connection
… to seniors living at home — or in the homes of their family members. Caregivers and seniors can find a location in their area, and learn more about costs, and more, through their website.
#3: Area Agencies on Aging
Area Agencies on Aging are local agencies — more than 620 — that provide a variety of services and resources, including:
- Nutrition counseling and meals
- Caregiver support
- Care management
- Long-term care ombudsman
- Insurance counseling; and
- Transportation assistance
Understand That Caring for Elderly Parents at Home Isn’t Always Possible — Signs You Should Pay Attention To
While you’re passionate about ensuring your parents get to age in place, or at least in the comfort of your home, you’re questioning if you’re doing the right thing for everyone and are left wondering if it’s just too much.
There are several factors to consider when deciding if you’re able to provide care in your home or if you should seek more help, like:
- Health decline: If your parent’s health is rapidly deteriorating, it may become difficult to care for them at home. Signs and symptoms of memory loss, Alzheimer’s, or dementia are important to monitor.
- Safety concerns: If your parent is at risk of falling, wandering, or has other safety hazards in the home, it may not be safe to continue caring for them at home.
- Caregiver burnout: If you find that you are struggling to physically, emotionally, or mentally manage the demands of caregiving, it may be time to consider other options.
- Need for specialized care: If your parents require specialized medical care that you are not equipped to provide, like 24/7 supervision, it may be necessary to consider a different living arrangement.
- Financial burden: The cost of caring for an elderly parent at home can add up quickly, and if it is becoming a financial strain, it may be time to consider alternative options.
Senior Services of America: Providing the Best Possible Care to Your Elderly Parents & Your Family
We understand how difficult the decision can be to choose between caring for an elderly parent at home or choosing a senior care facility to help.
At Senior Services of America communities, we strive to provide the best possible customer service to you and your family. Our communities offer a range of care options including:
- Respite care
- Assisted living
- Memory care
On top of ensuring that your loved one gets the respectful care they need and deserve, our communities can provide life enrichment through engaging activities, complimentary transportation for appointments and outings as well as three nutritious chef-prepared meals a day. Our residents often tell us that they wished they’d made the move sooner. To find out if senior living could be a good option for your family, contact your nearest community today.
The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.