12 Tips to Caring For Your Elderly Parent at Your Home
There comes a certain time in an aging parent’s life where they can no longer care for themself on their own. As the child of that parent, you are left with an important choice to make: do I find accommodations for my parent, or do I care for them at home?
Caring for an aging parent is never easy and there simply is no right or wrong answer to this question. You must decide what is right for you and your parent’s needs.
The first thing you’ll want to do before moving an elderly parent into your home is to get the house ready. There are many different things to take into consideration in order to help them feel the most comfortable, as well as suit their needs.
Here’s what to think about:
- If you can, set up both a bedroom and a bathroom for them on the first floor of your home. As people age, they become more and more unsteady on their feet and the risk of falling becomes greater. Adapt your home so that they can live a happy, comfortable life and access everything they need without using stairs. Getting a European style hospital bed is also ideal. It can reduce the risk of falls and it provides good care technique.
- For any areas that require just a step or two down, consider installing a shallow ramp that they’ll easily be able to navigate. A slow gradient will be much easier than a stair and will help reduce tripping hazards.
- If your house does not allow for a bedroom and/or bathroom on the first floor, consider installing a stairlift on your stairs. These provide a motorized seat for your parent to sit in that will give them safe access to the second floor.
- Bathrooms can be a particularly dangerous place for seniors, as they have a lot of smooth surfaces that tend to get wet. Installing grab bars around the toilet and shower is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to make this a much safer environment.
- Consider whether your furniture is senior-friendly. Aging bodies often lose muscle mass and flexibility, so low couches and chairs can be challenging to get in and out of. Consider purchasing a recliner with a life in it to help ease your parent into a standing position.
- If you’re wondering, “why do old people shake”, your parent may suffer from a tremor. Consider whether your household goods are tremor-friendly. Dishes and glasses with high sides can reduce spills and those with larger lips can be easier to grip.
Every aging person has their own set of challenges and needs. Depending on your parent’s circumstances, they may simply need your watchful eye, or they may need in-home, round-the-clock professional care—or anything in between.
Consider the following when assessing their level of need:
1. Start by thinking about your parent’s weekly and monthly obligations. Do they have regular doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, or other commitments? How will they get to and from those commitments?
2. Think about the things your parent does in a day and which of them they need help with. Can they cook their own meals? Do they remember to take their medications? Can they bathe themselves? Consider which of these you’re realistically able to assist with every single day.
3. In the first few weeks of living together, it can help to keep a notepad handy and note down any additional tasks your parent asks for assistance with. This can help you assess their level of need.
4. Be sure to regularly reassess your parent’s needs, as they can rapidly change. Check in with yourself on a frequent basis to determine whether you’re still able to handle the level of care they need, or if you need to get help. Never feel guilty about bringing in outside help for an aging parent; it may be the best thing for both of you.
We hope these 12 tips help guide you as you take on a caregiving role for your elderly parent.