Keeping Aging Parents at Home: 5 Caregiving Tips You Should Be Aware Of

Editor

Summary of key points

Deciding to become a caregiver for your aging parents is never easy. You want to ensure their comfort, safety, and dignity while allowing them to remain in the familiarity of home.

 

As our parents age, they may require more assistance with daily tasks and healthcare needs. Many tend to shy away from such responsibilities and take the easy way out by sending their parents to senior care facilities. According to the US Census Bureau, over 1.2 million people, i.e., about 2.3% of the senior adult population, are living in nursing homes across the US.

 

For those who choose to keep their elderly parents at home, the role of caregiver can be both rewarding and challenging. It takes much planning, adaptation, and support. And yet, it brings a ton of physical and emotional challenges.

 

This article provides five essential caregiving tips to help you navigate common obstacles when keeping aging parents at home.

Tip 1: Adapt the Home for Safety and Accessibility

One of the first steps to take as a new caregiver is assessing your parents’ home for safety and accessibility issues.

Start by looking for fall risks like loose rugs, cluttered walkways, poor lighting, and lack of grab bars and railings. Falls are increasingly dangerous for seniors. According to the CDC, millions of seniors are treated for fall injuries each year. One in five falls results in critical injuries like brain injuries or fractured bones. Moreover, once an elderly person falls, the risk of them falling again increases by twice as much.

To avoid such injuries, install grab bars in the bathroom near the toilet and shower. You can also attach railings on both sides of stairways and steps. Improve lighting throughout the home, especially in entryways and hallways. Place night lights in bedrooms and bathrooms. Remove potential tripping nuisances like area rugs and electrical wires from walkways.

You may also need to widen doorways for wheelchair access, install a ramp for entry into the home, and adjust sink and countertop heights for accessibility. Consult an occupational therapist to evaluate the home and recommend assistive equipment based on your parents’ needs.

Tip 2: Understand Health Care Needs and Medications

As parents age, they require more frequent medical care and take multiple prescription medications. This makes medication management and scheduling/attending doctor appointments a primary duty of caregivers.

Keep a spreadsheet or notebook listing your parents’ medical conditions, medications, dosages, prescribing doctors, and pharmacy information. Set reminders for refills and follow-up appointments. Confirm your parents take medications correctly by organizing them in a pill organizer.

Provide or arrange transportation for medical visits, physical therapy, and other healthcare services. Track symptoms between visits and notify doctors of any concerning changes. Learn to use medical instruments like blood pressure monitors, thermometers, and glucose meters. You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with managing insurance paperwork and billing.

In the process of caregiving, you may find yourself contemplating furthering your education in healthcare to better support your loved ones. If so, consider exploring online accelerated BSN programs. These programs offer flexibility and convenience for anyone seeking to advance their knowledge and skills in basic nursing.

Rockhurst University recommends checking out state authorization, as each state has distinct requirements and unique course duration.

Tip 3: Provide Proper Nutrition

Seniors usually experience decreased appetites and changes in taste and smell that lead to poor nutrition. As a caregiver, focus on providing nutrient-dense meals tailored to your parents’ preferences.

If your parent’s sense of taste is diminished, add spices and seasoning to improve food flavors. If they struggle with chewing or swallowing, incorporate soft foods like scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, smoothies, and soups.

Since geriatric diets call for extra protein, serve chicken, fish, Greek yogurt, and beans often. To maintain a healthy weight, offer nutritious high-calorie snacks between meals, like protein shakes, mixed nuts, and avocado toast. Drink adequate water and fluids too.

Consult a nutritionist or doctor for guidance on special diets if needed. With some creativity and patience, you can ensure your aging parents receive proper nutrition at home.

Tip 4: Maintain Mental and Social Health

Providing for your aging parents’ physical needs is not enough. You must also nurture their mental and social well-being. Seniors are at risk for issues like isolation, depression, and dementia.

Social interaction is key. Schedule visits from friends and family often. Arrange for your parents to attend community events, and activities at a local senior center, or join a club like a book club. Even video calls with relatives can brighten their spirits.

Keep their minds active with puzzles, word games, or other mentally engaging activities. Play cards, work on a paint-by-numbers kit, or bake cookies together. Laughter truly is great medicine.

Watch for signs of memory loss or personality changes that may indicate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Seek medical help if needed. Support groups can also provide resources for managing aging parents’ mental health changes.

Tip 5: Take Care of Yourself as a Caregiver

Finally, don’t neglect yourself as a caregiver. Watch for emotional and physical exhaustion, lack of motivation, irritability, and withdrawal from friends – these are signs of caregiver burnout.

According to a Chinese study, caregivers assigned to seniors are at risk of developing severe psychological symptoms similar to hospital patient caregivers. Another research suggests that 35% of caregivers find it challenging to spend some me-time, while 29% have issues handling stress, and another 29% encounter difficulties finding work-life balance.

To avoid this, make time for exercise, hobbies, and seeing friends to maintain your mental well-being. Accept help from family or hire home health aides for temporary respite care. Seek counseling or join caregiver support groups to cope with stress.

Caring for your parents is a loving act of devotion. But you must replenish your energy reserves for the marathon, not sprint, of elder care. With planning and support, you can keep your parents at home comfortably while taking good care of yourself too.

 

Bonus Tip: When At-Home Care May No Longer Be The Best Option

Sadly, there may come a point when caring for your parents at home is no longer safe or feasible.

If their needs exceed what you can provide, or your health starts to suffer, it’s time to explore alternatives. Assisted living communities offer varying levels of support, while skilled nursing facilities provide 24/7 medical care. This decision can be incredibly difficult, but remember, it’s made from love and a desire for the best possible care.

In conclusion, caring for aging parents at home is a journey filled with both joys and challenges. However, it enables them to live and comfortably age in a loving, and familiar environment.

Start by adapting the home for safety and accessibility. Understand medical needs and medications. Provide proper nutrition and nurture mental well-being. Most importantly, practice self-care to avoid burnout. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. There are resources and support to help you navigate the complexities of caregiving.

Use these essential tips to thoughtfully guide both your parents and yourself through the caregiving journey. With patience, compassion, and dedication, you can create a safe and loving environment that allows your aging parents to age gracefully at home.

 

Editor

Advertisement

Latest Articles

10 Essential Strategies for Navigating Dental Issues

10 Essential Strategies for Navigating Dental Issues

Summary of key points In the charming community of Wake Forest, NC, where the well-being of its residents is a shared priority, maintaining a radiant smile goes hand in hand with a vibrant lifestyle. Dental health, often overlooked in the broader spectrum of wellness,...

What Are the Medical Benefits of Feeding Tubes

What Are the Medical Benefits of Feeding Tubes

Summary of key points Are you recovering from a tough illness or maybe an accident that made it difficult to swallow food? In such scenarios, the thought of eating might seem impossible, but your body still craves the vitamins, energy, and all the things that keep you...

Latest Articles

10 Essential Strategies for Navigating Dental Issues

10 Essential Strategies for Navigating Dental Issues

Summary of key points In the charming community of Wake Forest, NC, where the well-being of its residents is a shared priority, maintaining a radiant smile goes hand in hand with a vibrant lifestyle. Dental health, often overlooked in the broader spectrum of wellness,...

What Are the Medical Benefits of Feeding Tubes

What Are the Medical Benefits of Feeding Tubes

Summary of key points Are you recovering from a tough illness or maybe an accident that made it difficult to swallow food? In such scenarios, the thought of eating might seem impossible, but your body still craves the vitamins, energy, and all the things that keep you...

Tips to Improve Your Sleep Cycle

Tips to Improve Your Sleep Cycle

Summary of key points A good night’s sleep can substantially improve your well-being and performance efficiency in different areas of life. Considering the importance of good quality sleep, it’s important to look for habits and tips that may be adopted for improved...

Home Exterior Remodeling: 10 Tips for First-Time Homeowners

Home Exterior Remodeling: 10 Tips for First-Time Homeowners

Summary of key points Diving into a home exterior remodeling project for the first time is a significant milestone for any homeowner in Omaha. It brings with it both excitement and uncertainty, with the promise of transforming your home's facade into something that...

Latest Recipes

Get a free recipe book created by our nutritionists below!