Senior Lady with Care Giver - Photo

Caring for The elderly at home

Article by Kerry Churchill, RN

If you’re worried about your elderly parent’s safety and well being at home, you are not alone. According to Forbes magazine, nearly 50% of people over 65 need help in order to stay safe at home, outside assisted living facilities. While adult children are the most common support, there are many aspects of caring for the elderly at home over time. Depending on your situation and the needs of your elderly parents as they age, there are many considerations to explore.

Elderly Parents

It is only natural human nature to want to remain in our own home as older adults and avoid the nursing home. And why not? Who wants to give up living independently on their own terms? As an older adult you probably prefer in home care from a local area agency or family caregiver right in your own place for as long as possible. For many seniors this includes the desire to stay active and have regular access to the outdoors, perhaps a garden or nearby park.

Family Members

For family members, it can be stressful to know when and how to help older parents at home. This is especially true if your aging parents experience a health crisis such as a fall or have other health issues requiring medical care. Many admissions to nursing homes are a result of this type of emergency situation when in home care is not feasible.

Aging Parents

Fortunately, resources are available to help both you and your aging parents navigate options for them to continue to live safely in their own home. You’ll find many here on this website. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to caring for the elderly parent at home.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Caring for the Elderly at Home

What are the basic ways of caring for the elderly at home?

If you or other family members or close friends live nearby, caring for the elderly at home may initially be as simple as stopping by regularly to spend time with them and provide needed assistance.

For example, for many older people getting out in bad weather is especially difficult. Offering to run errands, pitch in with household chores, take care of grocery shopping, or arrange for home delivery of nutritious meals can contribute to them staying in their own homes.

Similarly, regular visits that include physical activity and social contact such as walking together and sharing conversations can contribute to overall health and well-being for both of you.

Family involvement in enjoyable activities with your elderly parent early on can also encourage open communication, giving your elderly loved one opportunities to discuss their preferences and ideas for when additional support is needed.

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What are the five things you must consider when you are taking care of an elderly parent?

As a family member, there are many considerations when taking care of an elderly parent at home. Below are five essentials:

  1. Ensure proper legal paperwork is in order early on: Consulting with an elder law attorney who specializes in learning about the life goals of seniors and their family members can bring much needed peace of mind. In addition, these professionals are uniquely qualified to help plan for optimal health and happiness for your elderly parent in their golden years. For example, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs available to specific groups such as veterans from the veterans affairs that may help pay for some senior services can often be more easily and successfully navigated with professional help and planning.

  2. Prioritize your own health: Seek caregiver support groups and resources for respite care before you need them. Aging is a journey.

  3. Maintain a comprehensive list of important medical care information: Begin by getting input from your loved one if possible. For example, keeping a current list of health conditions, medications, and food and drug allergies, as well as any questions to ask at upcoming medical appointments are helpful to have handy.

  4. Determine realistic expectations: This is important for safely maintain your parents at home. Is your elderly parent’s house suitable for long term care? Does your elderly parent have other health insurance that may provide help with in home care? This is especially important as older adults age and may develop mobility or cognitive challenges requiring constant supervision for their safety.

  5. Coordinate care giving responsibilities: The are a number of things to consider if you’re planning to help aging parents or older adults in their home, and someone needs to keep on top of them. Help to coordinate medical care appointments, provision of nutritious meals, regular access to family and friends, in home care and other services that help older people live independently can’t be handled by seniors themselves.

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What do seniors need the most to age well at home?

Services, safety and a sense of being loved. These are the “three Ss” of caring for the elderly at home. In home care can help with this, but more is usually needed to keep an elderly parent out of an assisted living facility.

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What every elderly parent needs to age in place at home?

Love, safety, freedom from physical abuse are all things that a family member can provide. Don’t forget respite care for yourself, either. Even the most committed family caregiver will get burned out in time without a break.

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How do you take care of an elderly person at home?

Contacting the local area agency on aging or visiting the local senior center where your elderly parents live will provide both you and your loved ones many resources to explore together. Often, there are directories available at no charge that include information for all stages of aging. Common examples include local government programs supporting seniors at home. For example, many areas offer a homestead tax reduction for seniors who own their house, as well as programs to help older people with home repairs and home modifications such as ramps and grab bars for home aging in place. In addition, as extra support is needed, using an eldercare locator, community living options, social services guide, and a connection with a local senior center are all key. See the Resources section of this website for the connections you need.

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What are 4 types of caregivers?

Not surprisingly, informal (and typically unpaid) family caregivers are the most common help for elderly parents. Additional formal or paid caregiver options may help you provide care for your loved one. Formal caregivers are often private pay. In some cases, certain long term care insurance may pay for all or partial costs of formal caregivers. Conversely, under specific circumstances, Medicare and Medicaid may also cover the services of formal caregivers. Four common types of formal caregivers include those who provide care in:

  1. Home Care: This happens through a home health agency who provide care through a wide range of services.

  2. Adult Day Care: Services are typically provided during the day and may allow you to continue working or at least get a rest. Care usually includes assisting with nutritious meals, providing recreational activities and socialization, as well as assistance with ambulation and using the restroom. As a family caregiver, this can be a valuable source of rest and respite care for you.

  3. Assisted Living: This can happen at home with home care assistance from professionals.

  4. Nursing Homes: These provide the highest level of care, but at the greatest financial cost and is the least desirable option for most older adults.

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What do aging parents need the most?

If you ask older adults, the answer is almost always some version of the same thing: “I want things to remain as close to normal as possible.” About 75% or all elderly parents want to stay out of the nursing home or assisted living facility, with some kind of healthcare provided by adult children if possible.

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What is the best way to take care of elderly parents?

In home care provided by adult children and elder care professionals is the best situation most older adults can aim for. This kind of personal care goes a long way to keeping older adults out of the nursing home.

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How do you care for your aging parent without losing yourself?:

If you or another family member are providing personal care for your elderly parents, be sure to take care of your own health, too. It is easy for caregiving responsibility to escalate quickly.

As your parents age you will want to have a plan and a care team in place. Initially, occasional respite care, perhaps provided by a senior care agency, may be all that is needed. Most older adults, however, will need additional support services as they age.

Your aging parents should have a trusted health care team. For many, key healthcare providers include their primary care physician. Additional support may be provided by health care providers such as nurse case managers, and various therapists. For example, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and counselors each have specialized roles in contributing to the overall health of seniors.

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How To Take Care Of Elderly Parents At Home

Adult children who want to care for their aging parents can choose from two choices. Most primary caregivers find that in-house healthcare is easily available, with planning and medical guidance. Another option is for adult children to move in with their parents, making use of the many sources of financial help and practical assistance.

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