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Tips for Caring for Older Parents at Home

Elderly parents sitting at a table and talking to their daughter

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman

Published:

July 27, 2020


Most seniors are happy to age in place in the homes they have always lived in. However, when health issues take over, it may be time for assisted living — whether it’s in a senior care community or in the home of an adult child.

Assisted living is usually the first step in a senior’s long-term care plan, whereafter respite care may become necessary. In-home care is a good way to save money while keeping an elderly parent comfortable, but living with elderly parents can also be taxing on the caregiver and surrounding family members and figuring out how to take care of aging parents can be difficult. Moving elderly parents into your home might be a good fit for some, but it’s important to consider all of the options, first.

Here are a few elderly care tips for aging parents.
 

A Guide to Taking Care of an Elderly Parent in Your Home

For many adults, the responsibility of caring for an elderly parent tends to occur around the same time they head into retirement.

But the in-home care of an ill or frail parent could happen at any stage in your life — this is why it’s so important to know how to handle the responsibility. Here are some pieces of advice for caregivers of elderly parents to help you adjust: 
 

1. Assess How Much Care is Needed

Your first and most important step is to assess how much care an elderly parent needs. Be wary of taking on too much responsibility too early on. This is a fast-track way to become overwhelmed and you may quickly lose sight of the bigger picture or begin to overlook your own health.

Create a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to help you get a good idea of the type of care that’s required. This will also give a clear picture of how much help is needed during the day, at night, or over weekends.

In order to compile a comprehensive list, keep a notepad handy, and make a note of each time your elderly parent needs help with a certain task. After a week you should have a detailed overview of the scope of care that’s needed. 
 

2. Be Realistic About What You Can Provide 

Once you have a clear idea of what your parent’s needs are, you need to assess how much of it you can handle without additional help. If you know there are tasks that are out of your capacity, it’s important to be honest about it with your parent and yourself.  

Be realistic about how much care you can provide without sacrificing your own health, your relationships, and other responsibilities. If you take on too much, you could burn out, which would leave you unable to care for anyone. To a greater or lesser extent, it’s important to have help looking after elderly parents. Taking care of seniors has its own challenges, as well as rewards.
 

3. Get the Help You Need (Without Feeling Guilty!)

Remember that there is no shame in hiring the additional help you need. If you know you can’t do it all, but want to be able to provide the best possible care for your parent, then find the help you can afford. Sourcing the best services may take time and effort initially, but it’s an investment that will pay off down-the-line.

Additional support includes: 

  • Enrolling your parent in an adult day program which allows them to socialize, and you to rest 
  • Hiring a caregiver that helps out around the house on a daily basis 
  • Sourcing a volunteer senior companion who is willing to visit and take your parent out on excursions 
  • Eliminating errands by buying caregiving supplies in bulk for home delivery 

There is also no shame in asking close friends and other family members to run simple errands for you, to help with small housekeeping tasks, or to prepare a meal or two when you need it. 
 

4. Share the Load When You Need To 

Aside from asking for help with your caregiving tasks, it’s also important to share the responsibility and take a break when you need it. You may be doing a great job of caring for an elderly parent, but nobody is going to know you need help if you don’t ask for it. 

It’s fine to ask a sibling, a spouse, a close relative or friend to share your caregiving responsibility for a day or even a weekend. This allows you some much-needed time away and a chance to rest, recuperate, and return with energy. 

With this in mind, remember that getting help from family members and friends is different in every situation. Try to be creative and flexible in your approach to sharing the load. 
 

5. Make the Most of Easy, Ready-Made Meal Services

It’s no secret that the nutritional needs of seniors is exceptionally important — especially if they are ill or fighting off disease. Many seniors are also at risk of malnutrition due to a lack of appetite, depression, anxiety, and other factors. 

Shopping for food and making every single meal from scratch can be a lot of work, so make the most of simple, tasty, and affordable meal services in your area. This means your kitchen is always stocked with ready-made meals so your elderly parent doesn’t skip meals and meets their nutritional needs on a daily basis. 

Providing regular access to healthy, nutritious meals will help to boost their overall health, while a ready-made meal service helps to take the pressure off.
 

6. Find the Financial Support You Need 

Caring for an elderly parent can really add up over time. This could eventually place a serious financial burden on your shoulders. A good way to reduce the financial weight of caring for an elderly parent is to seek out the financial support you need before it all becomes too much.

A few simple suggestions include finding government and private benefits programs that cover some of the costs of supporting an elderly parent. If your parent receives a pension fund, talk with them and the family about using some of this to pay yourself as the family caregiver.

Look for reduced cost prescription medications or speak to an attorney about spending down in order to qualify for Medicaid
 

7. Don’t Neglect Self-Care 

One of the most important aspects of caregiving is to put yourself first, before caring for others. If your health fails, who will look after your loved ones?

Prioritize your self-care by nourishing your body with healthy, nutritious meals. Make sure you get enough good quality sleep, drink plenty of water, if you have the time and energy, exercise at least 3 times per week. Most importantly, if you need a break, or if you need help — ask for it! 
 

Find Reliable, Intuitive Caregiving With Commonwise Home Care

Taking care of an elderly parent in your home is not always an easy task. But with Commonwise Home Care, you have the caregiving support both you and your parent needs. 

Our services range from personal care, full in-home care, companionship services, care management services, and more. We are devoted to providing a reliable support network you can count on. Take a look at the at-home care services we offer at Commonwise Home Care or call our Care Team today at 434.202.8565.

Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or medication routine.

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