Caring for elderly parents at home can be a challenge and a difficult balancing act between ensuring they are comfortable and well cared for while helping them to maintain their independence. It’s only natural that they want to stay in the home they love, surrounded by all the things that have become so familiar to them over the years.
Sometimes though, there comes a point where more frequent medical care is needed and, if your parents are to stay at home, adaptations inside the building will be needed as well as a change to everybody’s daily routine. The only thing you can do is respect their decision to stay put and try and care for them as effectively as possible.
Doing that while you live in a separate house is never easy. In fact, it is a difficult process full of stress and jangled nerves. It can really test the relationship between siblings too, particularly if you are the nearest one and the one who is usually left to sort out medical emergencies and home care.
How to make caring for elderly parents at home easier
Modify Their Home
One thing you should strongly suggest is that their house is modified to meet their physical needs. This may be a compromise your parents may resist at first because it means admitting that they are no longer coping as well as they used to.
Start outside the home and check the safety of entry points such as front and back doors and gates. If there are steep steps, consider GRP flooring to create anti-slip steps and install handrails as we have done down my parents’ rather perilous driveway.
Tact and diplomacy are key but hopefully, they will see that a stairlift or an adapted bathroom will improve their quality of life and reduce the risk of injury. When you visit sites like www.terrylifts.co.uk, you can get an idea of the options open to you depending on the type of home your parents live in. There are all sorts of lifts and platforms for adapted homes, some of which may well be in your budget.
Even with these home adaptations, there is still the risk of a trip or a fall – particularly in bad weather and icy conditions. Checking up on your parents more frequently will be needed to ensure that everything is fine. If your parents are anything like mine (both of whom are almost 80), they may well ‘forget’ to tell you about any minor accidents because they don’t want to worry you. Unfortunately, that really doesn’t help you or them!
If you visit them on a regular basis, you will be there for them when they need you the most. Plus, you can take the strain off their shoulders and make their everyday life easier. For example, you can bring them their groceries so that they don’t have to leave the house. Little things like that reduce the need for them to take risks which lead to injury.
Still, you can’t do everything on your own because you are only one person. And, you have a family and a life to live too. If you have siblings who live nearby, you need to make sure that they pull their weight when it comes to caring for your parents. It’s more difficult if they live miles away and, as I mentioned, open and honest communication will be needed so that everyone is included in any decision making and everyone can share the responsibility of caring for your parents.
Local family members could create plans so that they have every day covered. For example, you can see them on Mondays and Wednesdays, and your siblings split the rest of the week.
Hire A Carer
Sometimes, caring for your parents is too much even with the help of the whole family. After all, your family doesn’t slow down just because your mum and dad are getting on a bit.
Chat with your doctor and your local social services department for advice. Age UK is also a fantastic source of advice, particularly when it comes to things like the carer’s allowance. If you are caring for your parents yourself, you may be entitled to this government benefit if you are looking after them for more than 35 hours per week.
You may also want to consider hiring a carer, a trained professional who will visit your parents’ home on a regular basis. This link will provide you with more information www.agingcare.com. A good caregiver will make everyone’s life much easier. If you are worried about the money, you can get a grant or a government loan to subsidise the cost.
Move In With Them
If things get worse and your parents are struggling to live independently and you still don’t want to consider a care home, then you may either need to move in with them or have them move in with you. Of course, this is only a viable option if your, or your parents’ house is big enough.
The kids might not like it, and your partner might feel the same, but they will understand. I know that if need be, I would prefer to have my parents living in our family home rather than relocate to a care home and I would be happy to do the same for the husband’s parents.
This does all, of course, depend on the medical needs of your parents. Some medical conditions will need a level of medical care you may just not be qualified to give – whether professionally, physically or, to be honest, emotionally.
It’s a sensitive topic and the feelings and needs of everyone involved will need to be taken into account.
Create An Emergency Plan
It’s sod’s law that accidents tend to happen when you aren’t around – and you just can’t be there for them all of the time. When accidents do happen, you need a plan of action.
Everyone needs to know their job and what they should do if possible. For example, you should tell your parents they need to ring an ambulance and then ring you straight away. Or, tell them to press the emergency button (see modify home) to alert the emergency services. A plan is vital because it can be the difference between life and death.
Suggest They Consider Moving
There may come a point where medical professionals or social services will have to get involved because your parents’ physical condition has deteriorated to the point where neither they nor you, can cope.
It isn’t an easy conversation to have but it may fall to you to gently suggest that a permanent relocation is needed. No one wants to force their parents into a decision, but you may need to be assertive. They need to know that caring for them while they are at home alone isn’t feasible anymore.
They need to understand that they need permanent help so that you can get them the care they deserve. This may not necessarily mean a care home. Sometimes, assisted living quarters are available which offer a mix of independence and around the clock care.
Caring for elderly parents is never easy, but you have to do what is best for their health and, at the end of the day, for yours.