It is a universal fact of life since the beginning of time: people age. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or to dread. But it can be hard as you and your family adjust to the new realities of old age, one that may include a reversal of roles where the child is now taking care of the parent.
Instead of being surprised, it’s best to be prepared with a plan of action should your parent need more attentive care. Most of us would prefer to stay in our homes as long as possible, and barring any serious medical issues, that’s a doable proposition. Here at Home Instead, we believe that staying home is always the best option.
Here are five ways to get started caring for your aging loved ones at home:
Create a list of care needs
First and most importantly, you need to determine what your parent’s care needs are depending on their physical, mental, and emotional health. For example, they might only need help with doing their laundry and making meals, or they might need help with something as foundational as getting up to use the bathroom and bathing.
Create a list of daily, weekly, and monthly care needs. You can split the tasks in terms of the eight elements of care: cognitive, nutrition, wound care/hygiene, gait/mobility, social, medication, transfers, and environmental.
This list will help you determine how much help is needed when – whether that’s during the day, at night, and on weekends.
Conduct a safety inspection and share
Before anyone begins caring for your parent at home, it’s important to assess their home’s safety. Falls are also the most common cause of fatal injury for older people, so be sure to examine the walking paths in their home to make sure that they are free and clear of debris, including lamp cords and pet toys. Make sure that your mom’s pesky rug stays put with rug grippers or rug liners. Check the batteries in their smoke alarms that might be too high for them to reach on their own.
If their home is not conducive to an older person living in it (upstairs bedrooms, narrow doorways, slippery tub, etc.), work with a contractor or DIY some solutions so that your parent is not at risk of getting injured in their own home.
Split caregiving responsibilities with able family members and friends
Now that you’ve got your parent’s care needs laid out and their home is safe for them to live in it, it’s time to split up the caregiving responsibilities with able and willing friends and family members.
Determine shifts for different caregiving needs, and work with the group to find the most conducive and sustainable solution for all. You don’t want your aunt committing to come by every day if that’s not going to be doable for longer than a month. Remember, many hands make light work.
Discuss the plan with your parent
Once you’ve worked out a plan, it is crucial to discuss the plan with your parent before finalizing it. No one likes the idea of losing their independence – it can be a difficult time in many people’s lives as they deal with aging and a new way of life.
Talk through the benefits of having someone care for them and how it will ultimately make them happier and healthier. Show them the caregiving schedule and discuss any potential concerns they have. Work through any issues and finalize the plan with your parent’s blessing.
Fill in the blanks with the help of professional caregivers
Depending on the care needs and community of people willing to help, there may be a lot of responsibilities on your plate. And if you’re middle-aged, you likely have a family and work of your own to stay on top of.
It can easily become overwhelming, but you don’t have to be in over your head. Sometimes the most important thing to do is accept when the responsibilities are too much. Consider working with a professional caregiver to lighten your load. The Care Professionals at Home Instead® can help as occasionally as once a week to as constantly as twenty-four hours a day. Whatever your needs, we can help make your life easier and make sure your parent is still being looked after by someone who truly cares.
If you have questions about how Home Instead® Care Professionals can help, check out our Care Calculator. We know that sometimes you just need a break, and we can be your partners in making sure your parent stays happy and healthy at home.