Most elderly parents will say that they want to spend the rest of their lives in their own home, aging in place, versus moving to an assisted living facility, senior living community, long term care or nursing home.
Depending on their health issues, aging in place can be done independently or with a personal care provider to help.
How To Help Aging Parents Stay In Their Home
- Make the home as senior friendly as possible
- Take advantage of assistive devices and technology
- Use home delivery services
- Take advantage of transportation services
- Explore available options when more help and care services are needed
- Sharing caregiving duties
Following these tips will give your parents the independence they desire and give you the peace of mind knowing that they will be as safe as possible. After all, no caregiver wants to get that dreaded phone call that something happened to their aging parent.
Once elders are uprooted from their own homes a cascade of serious problems can occur, including social isolation. So it is not surprising that the majority of individuals want to stay in a home filled with a lifetime of memories, surrounded by familiar objects, routine and community. – Southwestjournal.com
But if taking care of this is too difficult or you just don’t have the time or the support system to help you then I would encourage you to contact a geriatric care manager. They can review all the care options available in your community.
You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging for information on who you can contact for specific services.
It is up to you to objectively look at their situation, be realistic about the implications of what you find and take proactive steps to work with your loved one to ensure their wellbeing. (agingcare.com)
1. Make The House As Senior Friendly As Possible
The first step, as their adult children, to taking care of your elderly loved ones is to do your best to prioritize their safety concerns first and work on a long term care plan to ensure that home safety is a priority.
This can seem like a daunting task but if you take it step by step (like I’m going to show you in just a minute) it won’t be so overwhelming. Of course, the amount of work that needs to be done to accomplish this task depends on two things:
- the condition of the current house they live in
- the specific physical / cognitive care needs of your elderly parent(s)
So, here are 6 steps on how to make their living environment as safe as possible:
Fall Proof The House For Your Aging Parents
Older adults lose their balance easily so fall proofing is extremely important. This includes decluttering the rooms and spaces they use, removing throw rugs, modifying indoor and outdoor steps, installing grab bars and adaptive equipment and using technology such as fall alert devices, Alexa and/or a medical alert product.
Also, making sure your elderly parents are wearing the proper footwear to help them avoid slips, trips and falling. (i.e rubber soled shoes with a secure back heel that fit properly).
Falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for seniors in the United States. (homecareassistance.com)
Get As Much Light Into The House As Possible
During the day, increase natural light by raising the window shades or opening blinds and curtains (note – there are remote controlled options available if the senior is not able to do this themselves). At night, ensure there are plenty of lamps or lighting fixtures in every room that your senior loved one frequents.
They should keep a flashlight by their beside for middle of the night bathroom visits and should also keep one by the sofa or other seating area where they spend a lot of time. That way, if the power goes out, your aging parents won’t be fumbling around in the dark to try to find one.
They may state that they don’t need all this lighting – but decreased vision is extremely common in older adults – they may just not notice it.
Be Aware Of And Compensate For Any Cognitive Problems
Oftentimes elderly parents and their caregiving family members are not aware (or in denial) of issues with cognitive decline. I recommend asking your doctor for a professional assessment If dementia care is necessary – there there are things that you can do to make the home safer.
Click here to read my article on What Are Some Things To Do For Seniors With Memory Problems.
Prepare For Emergency Situations
In 2015 40% of residential fires involved seniors. Having a plan on what to do in case of a fire (and rehearsing it regularly), installing smoke alarms (and carbon monoxide alarms), having fire extinguishers (or fire blankets) where they would be most needed and installing stove shut off devices can all help to reduce the chances of a fire and/or help your parent(s) to survive one.
Be Aware Of Local Medical Care
Know where the local hospitals are, urgent care centers and of course all the physicians that your parent(s) may need. You may want to be proactive and set up a video chat with your parent(s) primary physician.
If you are on Medicaid, you can check with your local Medicaid office to find out if they will pay for telehealth services.
Install An Easy To Use Home Security System
An electronic home security system is today’s best option for protecting the home from outside intruders. I can recommend the SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security system. Once it’s installed, it’s very easy to use which is a big plus for seniors.
I would also recommend to contact an Occupational Therapist or Senior Home Safety Specialists to do an assessment on the safety modifications that need to be done to the house.
2. Assistive Devices and Technology For Elderly Parents
There are many options available today for aging adults and care providers that range from personal assistive devices like medical alert products to technology like video cameras that can make the home safer and personal care matters easier to manage.
This includes everything from monitoring systems, medication reminders to medical alert devices to grab bars to products to help with daily living activities to meeting healthcare needs via virtual doctor appointments and so much more.
The list seems to be endless and growing every day!
Independent living has never been easier to achieve!
3. Use Home Delivery Services
If you are caregiving for an elderly loved one then you know that time is precious. So, why not take advantage of all the wonderful home delivery services that are available these days.
It seems that you can get just about anything and everything delivered directly to your home. Anything from furniture to cars, groceries and fully prepared meals, clothing and medication and so much more!
Some of the more common home delivery services suitable for older people include:
Meals On Wheels
Almost everyone has heard of this wonderful meal delivery service. Anyone who is 60 or older who is unable to get to the grocery store and cook their meals qualifies for Meals on Wheels, as well as their caregiver.
Specialty Meal Preparation Delivery Services
There are many programs available that deliver prepared healthy meals to seniors. Programs that cater to specific diets such as Silver Cuisine and Diet-to-Go. If you are caregiving, you know what a great time saver this can be!
For older adults who continue to cook but find it difficult to grocery shop – meal kits are a wonderful concept. Everything you need to create a specific meal (including the recipe) is delivered to you.
Another service that I have been using for a few months (and loving it) is Misfits Market. They deliver fresh, organic produce (and more) to your door. As they say on their website…
Every box of Misfits produce you order benefits farmers, helps prevent food waste, and ultimately helps save our environment. Our rapidly expanding Philadelphia- and New Jersey-based operation rescues produce from regional farms and distributes it throughout the Northeast, South, and Midwest in three business days or less.
It seems that everyone is shopping at Amazon these days. I personally purchase many of my everyday items from them. Things like paper towels, toilet paper, cat food, vitamins, toiletries and much more.
The best thing about Amazon besides their quick delivery is the subscription service. Sign up to get items ordered on a schedule and you’ll never have to think about again!
Tip: The more products you add to your subscription list, the more you save!
Get Your Medications Delivered
Both Walgreens and CVS now deliver medications to your home. And there’s a new service available from Amazon, called Pill Pack, that not only delivers your prescriptions right to your door, but also puts the medications in small packets. Each packet holds the pills that should be taken in that dosage.
For example, if you take two medications in the morning on a Monday, they are combined into one packet that is labeled “Monday, 8:00 a.m.” It’s a wonderful concept that will make taking prescriptions easier for those who have many to remember.
This may be much easier than using pill dispenser boxes.
4. Take Advantage Of Transportation Services Aimed At Older Adults
Caregiving tasks may also include transporting your aging parents. There are multiple options for transportation services these days. Most everyone knows about Uber and Lyft ridesharing services, but many don’t know about their services specifically for seniors.
Today, 36% of U.S. adults say they have ever used a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in fall 2018. PewResearch.org
Uber’s senior program is called Uber Central – which, according to their website allows seniors, senior centers, friends and family members to request / schedule Uber rides for the elderly loved one. With, or without a smartphone. Check out our information on Uber For Seniors Without Smartphones.
Lyft works with GreatCall, a Jitterbug medical alert and phone company, to offer a rideshare service for seniors. They don’t even have to use the app to schedule a ride. Instead, they can go on their GreatCall phone, type zero, and an operator will schedule the Lyft.
They offer several types of rides for their passengers:
- Standard = $3.50 minimum
- Lyft Plus = $4.70 minimum
- Lyft Premium = $10.00 minimum
Free Transportation For Seniors
Lyft, the nationwide rideshare service has teamed up with a number of providers to offer both free and low-cost rides to senior citizens.
Yes – there are sources for free rides. Local transportation authorities in jurisdictions around the nation, app platforms like Lyft, Dial-A-Ride, and many other programs and volunteer services offer free rides for senior citizens.
We wrote an article on Where Can Senior Citizens Get Free Rides – check it out. There is a lot of good information there about that topic.
Your local Area Agency on Aging may also have information specific to your area on free transportation services.
5. Hiring Help For Elderly Parents
If you are blessed enough to have parents that will accept outside help for personal care, yard work and home maintenance then take advantage of it because it will be worth every penny.
The type of in home care help that you will be hiring depends greatly on how much help elderly parents need.
So, let’s break it down:
- If all your parent(s) need is help with household chores than a weekly maid service may be the best option for you at the moment.
- If they need help with personal care such as daily living tasks of showering, dressing, taking medication, etc. then home health care services or just home health aides would work for you.
- If they need 24 hour (or any number of hours) supervision throughout the day or night – then a full time or part time in-home care service would be the best. Medicare may cover some of these costs.
You can look at agencies such as Care.com, local home care agencies or you can search for a freelance person to hire for the job.
You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging for information on other sources of where to find an aide.
Medicaid helps people with a low income and few assets pay for nursing facilities and some assisted living and in-home care .aarp.org
I personally would recommend that you ask the home care agency if they can provide one person for all the visits. For many seniors, learning to trust someone in their home (or your home) is very difficult so keeping one person at all times is more beneficial for everyone.
Find out what you should look for when hiring outside help in our article, What To Look For In A Home Care Aide.
6. Sharing Caregiving Duties With Family And Friends
Taking care of elderly parents is very difficult so I encourage the adult children of aging parents to ask for family support as well as asking for assistance from friends, your church, etc.
Having a support system is extremely important.
When you do receive help, be grateful, make them feel appreciated. Truth is, most people want to help – they just don’t know how. And you may not know how either, at first, so I recommend you break down all the tasks that you do for your elderly parent(s) as if they are a long list of chores.
Delegate some of these chores to whomever is willing to help you.
It can be as simple as that – but you have to ask.
But it’s important to remember that senior care is one of the toughest and most stressful jobs you’ll ever have. (dailycaring.com)
If you are reluctant to talk to siblings or family members about helping with your senior care duties, we have some great tips to help you in our article, How To Talk To Siblings About Aging Parents – A Step By Step Guide.
Staying home is, of course, more desirable for many aging adults but it’s important to acknowledge whether it’s the most practical and/or safe thing to do.
A long term care facility may not be something that your parent(s) want to do but it may be the most logical solution. But also know that there are many other different types of senior living communities now and those should be reviewed and discussed.
All in all – helping an elderly person to stay and age in place in their own home can be a beautiful way to age – as long as it is safe!