As your parents start to age and need everyday care, you may decide to take on the responsibilities of a caregiver at home. Maybe it’s because your parents do not want to move into senior living, or perhaps senior living is not financially viable. Whatever the reason, as long as the arrangement works for all parties involved, letting the elderly live out their later years at home can be a great option.
Caring for elderly parents at home can be one of the most difficult and stressful jobs you undertake. Those who are caring for elderly parents at home are likely to be between the ages of 45 and 64 and likely have other responsibilities on top of caregiving. Even if you are younger, other things in your life – such as your job, children, partner, health, etc. – may be demanding and lead to burnout or other health issues. So, it’s important that you don’t take this decision lightly. It’s also vital that you pace yourself, seek out help when necessary, and make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. To help you take on caregiving, here are some tips for caring for elderly parents at home.
First things first, consider the following questions before you start caring for elderly parents at home:
- Can your parents continue living in their own home while you care for them?
- Should your parents move in with you?
- Does either of you have to move closer to each other?
- How will you be taking care of other aspects of your life (career, social life, your family, friends)?
- Do your parents need special equipment?
- How will you and your siblings share the responsibility of caring for elderly parents at home?
- Who is going to be on your caregiving team? (Think about doctors and other care and health professionals).
Understand the Situation
Sometimes, when people begin caring for elderly parents at home, they do not have a complete idea of what kind of care is needed and what they can realistically provide. Make sure you understand what caregiving, in general, requires. There are different resources at your disposal: books, journals, online communities. Websites – such as ours – can provide you with vital information about caring for elderly parents at home. For example, we have an entire article dedicated to defining companion care for the elderly. You might even find people who are in the same situation as you and volunteers who can help you.
Caregiving can be overwhelming and sometimes, the bigger picture gets lost in the small details. Begin to get a sense of the bigger picture by jotting down what your parents need help with day-to-day. This will help you understand whether care needs to be provided constantly, during the day, on the weekends, etc. You’ll also need to figure out what you can handle. You might realize that there are certain tasks you’ll definitely need help with. Decide how much you can realistically take on while keeping your mental health in good shape.
Finding a Routine
Caring for elderly parents at home will become much easier once you and your parents find a daily routine. You can do this by deciding what time you wake up, and when you go to sleep. Though it may sound simple, regulating sleeping patterns can be extremely helpful. You can also decide to schedule medication and meals at the same time each day. In between those set hours, you can complete your to-do list and other tasks that you set out beforehand. Make sure to speak with your parents about the scheduling; it should be a team effort and your parents should keep a sense of control over their own life. If you work together to create a safe and comfortable environment, there will be fewer issues between you and your parents later on.
Ask for Help
Though it may seem like a lot of work, finding the right sort of help for caring for elderly parents at home is important. There are different options you can consider:
- Adult day programs – your parent can sign up for a day program that will allow them to socialize, letting you rest for a bit.
- Hiring professional help – in-home caregiving professionals can also alleviate the burden of caring for elderly parents at home.
- Volunteer companions – you can also find elderly companion volunteering programs near you. This would give you back some time without demanding money.
- Respite care services – this can provide short-term relief for primary caregivers. You can utilize this option for just an evening or for several weeks.
- Meal delivery – think about signing up for a delivery service of meals on wheels. This will reduce the number of meals you need to make each day.
- Ask people around you for help – your family and friends will make a great support system if you simply ask them for help. Delegate tasks like light housekeeping, dinner prep, running smaller errands.
All of these options have the general aim of shortening your to-do list as much as possible. This way you can save both time and energy. Even if there are expenses involved, think of this as an investment in your self-care. If you have enough support and breaks, you will be able to be a better caregiver for longer.
You may be able to do a great job at the beginning; such a good job indeed, that people will assume you don’t need help with caring for elderly parents at home. It may be difficult to bring it up with your friends and family, but assuming that they will simply help without you asking is not a good plan. Instead, ask siblings and other relatives to take on some of the responsibility and give you a bit of a break. There are a variety of ways that relatives can help. They can provide a home for your parents, live with them for periods of time, run errands, clean the house, cook meals. Be flexible with your demands and try to work out a plan together.
Finally, if you decide that hiring professional help is the right thing for you, consider live-in carers. You and your parents can choose someone that both of you are comfortable with. These professionals can live with your parents and collaborate with you when it comes to caregiving. You’ll know that there is someone with your elderly parent 24/7, providing you support at all times. If your parents have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you may also hire someone who has experience with that specific disease. There are a variety of companies across the U.S. that can offer you highly skilled in-home carers that will be the perfect fit for your family.
Look after Yourself
Yes, your parents need care and your role as a caregiver is an extremely important and selfless one. However, you need to make sure that you don’t forget about yourself. If you work so hard that you tire yourself out, serious issues can arise. Instead, think about setting specific health goals. Monitor your sleeping habits, eat well, drink plenty of water. Take breaks whenever possible throughout the week, schedule physical activity. Check out our article about the different ways you can destress. Get out of the house as often as you can. You can even get yourself a nice gift. We have a whole other blog post about the best gifts for caregivers. You can also speak with your doctor about assessing your health. They’ll be able to give you advice about improving your lifestyle and even put you in touch with other caregivers in your community.
Find Financial Assistance
Another aspect of caregiving you should plan out is the financial strain it can place on your family. You may need to sell your parents’ home or even give up your everyday job to dedicate enough time to caregiving. Reducing costs can significantly reduce your stress. You may be able to find government and private benefits programs that help with everyday costs, prescription prices, etc. You can also look into qualifying for disability. You can check out articles on getting paid for family caregiving and qualifying for disability.
If you’ve decided to take on this challenge, you’ll realize that elderly care is a big responsibility. So, take advantage of every tip and strategy possible that can alleviate your stress. Make sure you prioritize your own health and keep a healthy balance. Plan in advance, research, take breaks, ask for help, and you’ll be sure to succeed at caring for elderly parents at home.