The best thing for aging parents is to remain at home with the help of outside care. However, it can be difficult to keep them there if they refuse or forget their medication, have a fall, or are in need of assistance with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks. This article will provide 7 key strategies you can use to help your parents stay at home longer.
1. Develop a Plan for Home Care
Create an action plan with the help of your parents and their doctor. It should include short-term and long-term goals, such as keeping written records of daily events, seeing a therapist to improve social skills and memory, and learning how to use assistive devices like a cane or walker. Some plans also include caregiver sleepovers so they can see for themselves what it’s like to live with the parent. Strategies including home care aides could be helpful; planning ahead makes them more effective when you need them.
2. Know Your Parents’ Wishes for Their Future Care
You might not like thinking about end-of-life issues, but they are important. Most parents will express their wishes in advance, and you should discuss them with them before they become incapable of making their own decisions. If your parent has dementia or Alzheimer’s, then you might have to speak on their behalf during the early stages of memory loss.
3. Identify the Resources Available in Your Community
Ask yourself: what is available in my community? As the parent ages, will I need help from a geriatric care manager? Will there be home health aides like certified nurses’ aids or licensed practical nurses? Are there senior living centers nearby if further care is required? Look for an adult daycare program that can assist your parents to socialize with other elderly people. Strategies such as hiring home care agencies, shopping at discount grocery stores, joining online support groups like Caregiver Forum, and involving family members and friends in the care plan may also prove useful.
4. Find out About Different Types of Care
The National Council on Aging provides free information about different types of care and resources related to aging. Strategies include attending workshops hosted by your local Area Agency on Aging or state Department of Aging services. According to the home-care professionals at arcare.com.au, by hiring care services, you can empower your parents to easily carry out day-to-day routine tasks. Gather information about government programs such as Medicaid or Medicare that are available to help with paying for care while you’re still working. Look for websites that can be helpful in finding links to other websites, articles, and fact sheets related to aged-care services.
5. Fill in the Gaps Before They Need It
Set up a special needs trust that lets you access funds at any time to pay for things like nursing homes, home health aides, and other expenses. Strategies such as obtaining an advance directive so that your parent’s doctor can speak on their behalf in case of advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may also be helpful. In addition, make sure there is enough money set aside before they need it.
6. Be Prepared to Spend Time with Them Every Day
Be prepared to spend time with them every day, especially as they age. Strategies including assisting your parents in getting out of the house for walks and social activities may be helpful; being present when they need help or attention (elder abuse can happen at any age) will also prove useful. As you care for aging parents, seek support from others who are facing similar challenges, such as friends or family members, adult daycare center workers, clergy, home health aides, nutritionists, and therapists. Remember to take care of yourself too!
Work with your parents and their doctor to develop a plan that is as detailed as possible. Your strategies must include asking your parent’s doctor to write down his diagnosis while he or she still remembers it, and discuss ideas for keeping track of daily events. Include scheduling in-home care by home health aides if you have the money available. This way when they do need help, you’ll already be prepared. Strategies such as getting a second opinion from another doctor if your parent doesn’t like the first one should also be considered. Start a journal for yourself where you can keep notes about any changes in physical or mental health that could prove useful too. Use this journal to remind yourself what happened during visits if you’re trying to remember later on.
Strategies for keeping aging parents at home are plentiful. Strategies include creating a plan, knowing your parent’s wishes for their future care, identifying the resources available in your community, and understanding what different types of care may be needed as your parents age. Strategies also involve being prepared to spend time with them every day. Make sure there is enough money set aside before they need it, filling in any gaps so that when they do need help or assistance, you’ll already be prepared!