Are you taking care of elderly parents at home? If you are, you’re not alone.
In one year about 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older.
As the population ages, more and more elderly ones are being cared for by people who aren’t trained professionals. It’s a loving provision to have your parents at home. But when you become the main caregiver challenges will arise.
How can you adjust when caring for elderly parents?
If you follow these 10 handy tips, you’ll be able to balance your caregiving load. This will enable you to keep your parents with you at home for as long as possible. Because “to care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors”.
1. Do Your Research
When making arrangements for your elderly parents, it can be all too easy to leave them out of the decision making. But it’s important for them to to be there and to get involved. The final years of their lives are in your hands, they deserve a say in matters.
Do your research and find out if they have a preference about which family member takes care of them. Or if they have already made decisions about what type of care they prefer. Of course, you may not be able to meet all their wishes, but you should take them into consideration.
2. Be Informed
Before moving elderly parents into your home you have most likely spent several years assisting them from their own home. It may seem like you can handle their needs, but can you see the whole picture?
To find out how much care they actually need, make a complete list of everything you and others do for them. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do they need help in the day or night? Or is constant supervision needed?
- Do they need assistance bathing and using the bathroom?
- Will you need to clean, cook, and shop for them?
- Will you need to run errands for them or transport them to places?
Be completely informed about their needs. Then there will be no surprises when you start living with elderly parents.
3. The Real Deal
When caring for the elderly be realistic about your own limitations. You need to make sure you don’t harm your own health and lead to burnout.
If you have a job, kids at home or other responsibilities you need to make sure living with elderly parents will match your routine. You will have to make adjustments, but reviewing your schedule will help you to make balanced decisions.
Think about your own personal limitations. Are you comfortable helping an elderly parent who’s incontinent? Think about these sensitive matters carefully and get support if needed.
4. Get Support
It’s not wrong to ask for help. Reduce your workload by arranging others to support you. Here are a few ideas:
- Adult day programs and respite care
- Volunteer or paid companions
- Home Caregiver
Find out about caregiving resources available in your community. Some services like transportation, housekeeping or meal preparation may be available. There are even free programs that can help.
There are resources out there at your disposal, use them!
5. Sharing Is Caring
One resource you don’t want to miss out on is family members. You may be the main caregiver, but try to create a schedule that rotates everyone. This will allow all to get involved in taking care of your elderly parents.
You may be able to call on certain family members for specific tasks, such as grocery shopping. Whereas other relatives may be able to assist for lengthy periods of time. Such as when you need to go on vacation.
Be creative and be flexible. There will be no perfect solution. But any help you get will reduce your workload.
6. Adapt Your Home
When moving elderly parents into your home you may need to think about remodeling. Here are a few points to take into consideration:
- Can they handle stairs?
- Do they need a ramp to access the house?
- Is there an accessible bathroom?
- Are the doorways big enough for a wheelchair?
It’s also important to think about privacy. Not only for your elderly parent but for your family too.
It may be beneficial to build a mother-in-law suite or separate space for them to live in. This will give them a measure of independence and privacy. But you will never be too far away if they need assistance.
7. Get Up-to-Date with Tech
There is some amazing smart home tech that can make caring for the elderly a lot easier and safer. For example, smoke alarms, home security, and medical alert systems.
This new age technology can help you to keep an eye on everything, even if you’re not at home.
8. Set Boundaries
When taking care of elderly parents at home, the dynamics of your relationship change. They are moving to YOUR house. This makes you the primary caretaker and decision maker.
This new situation may require a new set of rules. Some issues that you may need to address include:
- Loss of independence and privacy
- Order and cleanliness
- Families values and how you bring up your children
- Bad habits
Setting up boundaries at the offset will allow your parents to adjust to their new dependant role.
9. Set Up a Social Network
No, not social media, a social life. This is vital if they are moving a long distance to move in with you.
They may become lonely, especially if you’re at work and the kids are at school. Instead of letting the TV entertain them all day try to find out ways to get them socializing.
There may be senior center or adult daycare facilities nearby. These centers can provide a fun social network for your loved one. Some even provide art classes, musical entertainment, and day trips.
10. Balance Is Key
Taking care of elderly parents in your home is a unique chance for you to give back to your loved ones. You will, no doubt, feel a sense of fulfillment. But the responsibility can also come with a lot of stress.
According to a report, nearly half of family caregivers feel stressed. There are only 24 hours in a day, balance is key. Don’t neglect yourself, make time for some respite, and socialize as much as possible.
Caring for Elderly Parents
As you can see, caring for elderly parents is not walk in the park. But it can be a lot easier if you follow these handy tips.
If your elderly family members are ready to move into your home, it might be time for some renovation. Find out more about building a mother-in-law suite here.