Do you have aging parents who need help staying safe and healthy at home? As a caregiver, it can be difficult to figure out their needs and understand options available.
If you are a family caregiver, you are not alone. About 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older each year, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. With the number of family caregivers growing every day, we need solutions to help caregivers and their loved ones live independent lives.
Because every household’s situation is unique, navigating what to do to help aging parents can be confusing. Start with small, concrete tasks that promote safe and healthy living environments. Use these simple tasks as stepping stones for helping seniors in your life age in place successfully.
Tips for Helping Aging Parents Stay at Home
Are you trying to help your aging parents stay at home? Try these five tips for helping mom and dad remain independent in their own home.
1. Evaluate your parents’ needs
The first step in helping aging parents stay at home is to understand what they need in order to live independently. Knowing the challenges you and your parents face will help you create the best plan for moving forward.
There are several things to consider when thinking about the needs of an aging parent. Here are a few topics you might explore:
Mobility – How well does your parent get around the house and the community? DO they require equipment such as a walker or cane? Do they drive or have access to transportation?
Home Safety – Has anyone evaluated the home for things such as fire and fall hazards? Do your parents have access to heat and air conditioning? Is the structure of the home safe, or does it need work?
Family Support – Are there a lot of family members who can provide support to your aging parents? Does your family live near your parents, or are they far away?
Medical Needs – What medical care do your parents require? Do you and your parents understand the medical coverage and have a care plan?
Meal Preparation – Do your parents have access to nutritious foods? Are they able to prepare meals?
Social Interaction – Do your parents spend enough time with others? Who is a part of their day-to-day lives?
Cognitive Health – Do your parents have a hard time remembering things such as appointments and recent events?
Personal Hygiene – Are your parents able to take care of themselves, or do they need some assistance?
Looking at these categories, you can see where your loved ones need the most help. Once you determine the ways your parents need help, you can seek out solutions. Many services can help you. A simple Google search should show you what is available in your community.
2. Think about your needs
When caring for aging parents, it is important to not lose sight of your own needs. In fact, your needs are just as important and should be considered when coming up with a plan to help your parents age in place.
Stop and think about your own situation and abilities before deciding on solutions for your aging parents. Here are some factors to consider:
- Do you live close enough to visit often?
- Do you also care for children in your household?
- How does your job affect your ability to care for your parents?
- Are you physically capable of providing care?
- Does your relationship with your parents allow you to spend a lot of time together without creating negative feelings?
- Are you willing to learn how to provide different kinds of care as your parents age?
You want your parents to be safe and healthy. It is not selfish if you decide that you are not the best person to provide certain types of care. By looking at your needs and abilities, you can help select the best people to provide the help your parents need.
3. Remove safety hazards
Falls can be dangerous to older adults. Annually, falls are reported by one-third of all people over the age of 65. And, approximately 9,500 deaths in older Americans are associated with falls each year.
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent falls. Avoiding a fall can help your aging parents stay independent longer. By making these simple fixes, you can lessen the chance of your parent tripping and falling.
- Clear floors and walkways of clutter, rugs, and cords. If there are rugs, tape the corners down to keep them from curling up and becoming dangerous.
- Update to brighter lighting and easily accessible light switches.
- Ensure all appliances work correctly are within reach.
- Add grab bars in the bathroom and stair railings.
- Reduce the need to use stools or bend down low.
Want an even more extensive fall prevention measure? Matter of Balance is a Fall Prevention program that helps seniors gain balance and confidence. The program also includes a fall risk assessment and suggestions for improving safety. VANTAGE Aging provides the fall prevention program in Summit County, Ohio.
4. Share caregiving responsibilities
Being a caregiver to a parent is a tough but rewarding job. But, you do not have to do it alone.
Seek out help when you need it and share your caregiving responsibilities to get a much needed break and recharge. You might ask family members, friends, or neighbors to help you with aging parents. You can also turn to community organizations and professionals who help with caregiving responsibilities.
One way you can share caregiving tasks is by getting a home-delivered meal service for your parents. They can receive either frozen or hot meals delivered right to their door, so you do not have to worry about going over and cooking every day. An added peace of mind factor is that there is another person checking in on your parents when they drop off the meals.
VANTAGE Meals on Wheels provides nutritious home-delivered meals in Summit, Stark, and Wayne Counties. Clients can choose from a number of delicious meals that cater to dietary needs. Meals on Wheels clients are also eligible to receive free pet food for their pets.
5. Have effective communication tools
Communication is key when it comes to family caregiving. Keep your parents safe and healthy by ensuring they can easily call for help and keep in touch with friends and family.
Make sure their phone is easy to use and easily accessible. Preprogram important numbers in their phone and make sure they know how to use the device. They may also want to wear a medical alert device.
Isolation and loneliness can have serious negative effects on a senior. Is your aging parent getting enough socialization?
Consider a telephone reassurance program. VANTAGE RSVP’s Telecare program matches senior volunteers with isolated adults for friendly conversations and check-ins to avoid isolation and loneliness.
If an aging parent is experiencing loneliness, depression, or anxiety, they may benefit from talking to a counselor. VANTAGE’s Behavioral Health Solutions counselors specialize in treating older adults and can even make home visits in Summit County.
Keeping Aging Parents Independent at Home
Being a caregiver to a loved one is often as challenging as it is rewarding. Be sure that you have the support you need to maintain balance in your life while caring for aging parents. Do not be afraid to reach out for help, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed.
VANTAGE Aging can help you care for aging parents with wraparound services that promote positive aging. Ask about our Home Wellness Solutions, Meals on Wheels, Behavioral Health Solutions, or RSVP Telecare phone reassurance program today.
Together, we can help seniors in our community and your loved ones age in place with dignity and independence. Contact us today at 330-253-4597 or firstname.lastname@example.org to explore our programs.
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.