How to Care for Elderly Parents at Home
As your parents get older, you may find that their ability to care for themselves has eroded, and perhaps you’re not quite ready to have them live in a nursing home. Many adult children of elderly parents opt to provide as much care as possible, at least for as long as they can manage. This can be an extremely fulfilling endeavor, but it can also be a great deal of work and responsibility. Hopefully, this article helps address some of the initial concerns and potential issues that can arise, and how to deal with those issues affectively, without sacrificing your own mental and physical health.
1. Write Down a Caregiving ListWhat exactly is going to be required of you to be able to affectively take care of your parent? You need to be realistic with yourself about how much responsibility will be involved. You will want to provide adequate attention to ensure that your parent will be safe and cared for, while also being able to manage the other responsibilities in your life. Below is a list which is commonly referred to as ADL – Activities of Daily Living. This is a term often used in healthcare which you can use as a guide to determine what daily activities your aging parent will need help with, and to and give you an idea of what tasks you will have to balance on a regular basis. The better prepared you are, the more equipped you will be to handle obstacles and ensure that your loved one has all the proper care and support that they need.
Activities of Daily Living
- Functional Mobility (Walking, maneuvering around the household, sitting down, getting into bed, etc.)
- Getting dressed/undressed
- Bathing and Showering
- Personal Hygiene
- Toilet Hygiene and Safety
The following list is referred to as IADL – Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. This list contains items that are not necessarily fundamental for basic functioning but are extremely important in helping to assess how to approach providing your parent with the ability to live independently and to get out into the community. The state of your parent’s health will determine what they are able to do for themselves and what you need to help them with.
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living
- Meal Preparation
- House Cleaning
- Running Errands
- Managing Money
- Taking Medication
- Communication Management/Using the Phone
- Religious Gatherings
- Community Mobility
2. Seeking Proper HelpIt’s not always realistic for someone to take on the responsibility of doing everything for their aging parent. Depending on your financial situation and access to resources, you may want to find someone that can help you. Whether you’re going to hire a homecare worker to assist you some of the time, or you’re going to outsource some of your regular responsibilities (i.e. meal preparation), it’s important that you don’t take on too much and burn yourself out. If you’re overwhelmed by all of your responsibilities and it begins to take a toll on your mental or physical health, not only will you suffer, but you’re ability to take care of your aging parent will be compromised. Do a google search to see if there are any adult day programs in your area that allow your parent to get out of the house and socialize, while awarding you time to take care of yourself and do the things that you would normally do to maintain balance in your life. You can also reach out to the proper homecare companies in your area who will do an in-home consultation to advise you of what steps you need to take. Some areas have volunteer senior companion programs that will free up some of your time as well. If you have friends or other family members that can stop in to assist your parent and provide them with company, this will help you take the much-needed breaks. If you are able to share the responsibility of caring for your loved one with other people, it will lesson your workload and save you time, and hopefully prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and stressed.
3. Making Sure Your Home is SafeDepending on the state of your parents health and their age, you’re going to want to make sure that your home is equipped with proper safety features and equipment that will prevent them from getting hurt or suffering from any unnecessary falls. According to Statistics Canada (https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-624-x/2014001/article/14010-eng.htm), falls are the most common cause of injury for elderly Canadians. 87 percent of all fractures in elderly people are due to falling. Two thirds of those who fall will fall again within six months. Most falls happen when seniors are getting in and out of the tub or using the toilet. If your parent is over 85, they have a 1/10 change of dislocating their hip if they do fall. If you take the proper precautions, many of these accidents are preventable.
Below is a list of things that you can do to prepare your home and ensure that your aging parent is as safe as possible.
- Make sure that you do not place rugs at the bottom or tops of stairs and that any area rugs in your home are taped down.
- Always ensure that your smoke detector is in working order.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom, next to the toilet and inside of the shower.
- Use Rubber mats on the floor in the bathroom.
- If you feel like your parent is in danger by standing in the shower, invest in a bathing chair.
- Remove clutter throughout the home that could be a tripping hazard
- Store regularly used items like clothing and dishes in easy to reach places
- Place nightlights throughout your home
- Make sure that your parent has non-slip footwear