Bringing elderly parents into your home can be challenging. If you are considering this step, chances are your parents are showing signs of aging and already need extra care. You are probably thinking about the time and effort their care will entail, and the hurdles you might face as you both transition to a new and different way of living.
The following considerations are important in connection with taking care of elderly parents in your home.
Install the needed safety modifications specific to their needs. These may include night lights, well lighted stairways and halls. Add grab bars and railings especially in the bathrooms and along the stairways. Remove clutter and throw rugs. You may need to install a ramp. Consider a shower chair. The availability of fall detection devices and other safety systems made especially for seniors can aid with mitigating risks such as falling, leaving on the stove or iron, and needing to contact family or emergency services quickly.
Incorporate your Parents Belongings
When you are taking care of elderly parents in your home, you want them to feel that at home, so bring their home with them. Furniture, books, photos etc. will make them feel comfortable. And make them part of the conversation so that the transition is not happening “to” them but is something that you are doing together.
Similar to bringing their physical home with them, incorporating your parents' friends and favorite social activities, doctors etc. from their previous living situation is also helpful. Keeping things stable and unchanged whenever possible will reduce anxiety. Encourage your parents to invite friends over, have calls with them if friends cannot travel. Bring your parents to see their friends, play cards or be a part of whatever social situation they might have previously enjoyed. Going to a local senior center, Y, community center etc. where they can socialize, decreases depression and gives you time for yourself.
Be a part of your parents’ financial world. If you have not already done so, and when the time is right and it will not be too overwhelming, discuss finances. Are they able to pay their own bills? Are they at risk of fraud or abuse? Do they have someone to review their finances in order to make sure things are being paid on time and correctly? Especially if your parents are showing signs of confusion, discussing the possibility of managing their finances with them, or for them, is crucial. They may want to use a bill paying service or hire a financial advisor.
Legal and Healthcare Planning
It is important to know about your parents’ legal documents. Do they have legal and estate planning documents in place and are they current? Do they have a Health Care Proxy, Will and Power of Attorney? Do they need trusts, Medicaid planning? Find out if they have a long term care policy. You do not want to have to scramble in the event of an emergency or be left at a disadvantage because you did not plan ahead. It is critical to do legal and estate planning in advance as much as possible. Contact a legal professional to advise you.
Breakdown: 20 tips for Taking Care of Elderly Parents in your Home
Here is what we feel are the 20 most important tips for taking care of elderly parents in your home:
- Install night lights, well lighted stairways and halls
- Add grab bars and railings especially in the bathrooms and along the stairways
- Remove clutter
- You might want to get rid of throw rugs
- You may need to install a ramp
- Consider a shower chair
- Consider the availability of fall detection devices and other safety systems
- Bring their physical home with them
- Make them feel at home
- Incorporate your parents' friends and favorite social activities, doctors etc. from their previous living situation
- Keep things stable and unchanged whenever possible
- Encourage your parents to invite friends over, have calls with them if friends cannot travel
- Bring your parents to see their friends, play cards or be a part of social situations
- Be a part of your parents’ financial world
- Make sure they’re not at risk of fraud or abuse
- Help them review their finances in order to make sure things are being paid on time and correctly
- Find out about your parents’ legal documents
- Make sure they have legal and estate planning documents in place
- Think about helping them with Health Care Proxy, Will, Power of Attorney if they don’t already have them
- Find out if they have or need trusts or Medicaid planning
When immersed in taking care of elderly parents in your home, it is rare to step back and gain perspective of why you undertook this role in the first place. However, when you can remember that you are helping out of love, and that there is value to what you are doing, it often re-energizes you. And when you can remember that seniors are vulnerable, and it takes courage to be vulnerable in front of others, that point of view can often give you added patience. You are saying you love your parents by stepping in, and they are saying they trust you by letting you care for them.
That kind of relationship is invaluable.