Caring for your elderly parents at home brings a slew of new responsibilities you may not be used to doing.
Whether elderly parents are in the challenging late stages of dementia or are entering a new phase of needing support, there are many tips that can help you as their caregiver and resources to ensure they’re getting the best care possible.
Learn the top 10 tips for caring for elderly parents at home, and options for when it’s become too much to handle.
Caring for Elderly Parents at Home
1. Physical Health
Elderly parents are no longer as independent because their health affects how they function in their daily lives. Health is a top priority. Focus on meeting all medical appointments and making the most out of time with each doctor and various services.
This extends into at-home care, as you help them stay as physically active as possible, encouraging them to move their body and feel motivated to work at their physical health.
2. Mental Health
Just as important as physical health, mental health also needs support through mental stimulation.
Provide enriching experiences such as socializing, playing games, and doing activities together. Support them emotionally, letting them express frustrations or sadness openly, without taking it personally or fixing every problem. Elderly parents may need space to process feelings as they deal with the struggles of losing independence. This could include connecting them with a therapist or joining a support group.
As a caregiver for elderly parents, think of yourself as their advocate. You’ll likely understand them better than anyone, as you spend each day caring for them. Feel empowered to speak up for them, seek services that can help you both, research and learn what may improve their lives, and ask questions to those who can help.
4. Home Safety
Making adjustments around the home can make life easier for both of you. Make it more accessible and eliminate dangers. This could be as simple as clearing clutter, to extensive changes such as renovating a bathroom.
Elderly parents should have the tools they need to operate as independently as possible. Do they need a walker or cane? How do you ensure they use it and have access to it when needed? Is a stair lift necessary? Can smart home technology help to protect them, such as a stove that automatically turns off, or doors that lock automatically and remotely?
5. Sustainable Routine
Daily tasks can quickly become overwhelming without deliberate organization. You or your elderly parents shouldn’t have to worry about where the next meal will come from, how they’ll get to their next appointment, and if they’re getting the overall care they need.
Organize and establish routine tasks. From medication disbursement, to getting to appointments, to daily hygiene, eating, drinking, activity, and rest.
Keep a journal to track what works and doesn’t work. Make adjustments as needs change. Establish systems that make these daily tasks sustainable for you and comfortable for elderly parents.
6. Personal Support System
As you try making caregiving sustainable, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Communicate openly with trusted friends and family about support you need. Discuss giving certain responsibilities to others who can help. Ask for time off periodically or visits with you and your parents occasionally.
Consider joining support groups and finding other educational resources to continue learning what is best for caring for elderly parents.
7. Professional Services
Look into professional services that can fill the gaps for you and help with tasks you’re unable to do or struggle to do.
This could include meal services, in-home caretakers, transportation, and possibly transitioning to senior living. When possible, offer these services to your parent in a way that shows them how this will improve both their life and yours. Be willing to compromise and stay open to testing what you’re both comfortable with.
8. Financial tips
If you juggle working and caregiving, look into family leave options you may have through your employer to ease the pressures of work. There are also various assistance programs and insurance benefits available to help you provide the best care possible. Learn more here.
You may feel like you’ve had to become your parent’s parent. Remember that although they’re your parent, they don’t have authority over you. Although you’re their caregiver, you’re not a dictator over their actions. This dynamic works best when both sides feel respected and on the same team.
Keep open lines of communication, allowing you, your parents, and other family members to communicate needs and concerns. Establish trust for each person to do their part well.
10. Caring for Yourself
Don’t lose sight of your own wellbeing. Just as you provide care for others, take care of your own health. Provide a solid foundation with nourishing foods, hydration, movement, and rest. If you feel sick, make medical appointments. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider therapy or a support group.
As challenging as this time is, make time for yourself to experience joy and gain perspective on the many aspects of your life, outside of caregiving.
When Home Care is too Much to Handle
Home care can become overwhelming. Your loved one may not get the full support they need. If hiring additional professional in-home services still hasn’t met your needs, there are many reasons to transition to senior living. This is especially true for those struggling with memory care, such as dementia patients.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for our elderly parents is to recognize that we need to let go of some control and rely on further professional help.
If you feel that a parent needs a new level of care than what is possible at home, it may be time to consider the resources available at The Kensington White Plains. We can serve as your partner in the transition to assisted living or memory care.
Call us today to learn more.
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