Living with aging parents at home is the new trend in senior care. Keeping our aging parents out of facilities and at home is becoming increasingly popular.
There comes a time in life when we are all faced with the dilemma of aging parents. While we want to make sure they are safe, fed and healthy, they also need to have a good quality of life. There are many excellent care facilities out there. Some of very high quality and some are budget quality. All do provide some type of social stimulation, but it may not be what you want for your parents.
Keeping your aging parents at home versus placing them in a facility will take some planning and decisions. You have to first ask yourself a few questions:
Do I have the time to care for my parent(s) and give them quality care?
Do I have the resources for help?
How does my spouse and children feel about this?
Do I have the room? Is my house safe?
Do I understand dietary and medication needs?
Let's take a look at each question individually.
Time - Aging parents that are unable to care for themselves alone in their home will need assistance with meals, medications and activities of daily living. Plus, they need some sort of social connection. This will take time from your own daily routines. They need attention. If you work a full time job, you may need to bring in outside help during the day. Which leads to the next question.
Resources - Caring for aging parents will be a full-time job. Depending on the level they are at, they may need help anywhere from basic daily needs to cooking. If you can be at home then you may need someone to at least relieve you a few times a week for a break. If you work, you may need an assistant caregiver while you are away. Look into respite care resources and make sure you will have the money to pay for services.
One helpful resource is getting a geriatric care manager. This person can help manage care and put you in touch with other resources for respite care. Check out the National Association For Geriatric Care Managers.
Family - This is a good time to talk to your spouse and other family living in the home. See how they feel about having grandma and/or grandpa living with you. They are also a great resource for help if all agree to the new living arrangements. Family obligations and commitments need to include aging parents. Or, it may mean having to work around schedules for doctor appointments and medical treatments. There needs to be a plan.
Room and Safety - Your house needs to be big enough to accommodate extra people. Your aging parent(s) need their own personal space and room. The house also needs to be safe and well-lit. You need to make sure the floor is free of cords, loose rugs and obstacles. This will prevent them from feeling like they have no place of their own. It will also give them a safe environment to prevent injuries.
Diet and Medication - It is very important to understand dietary needs. You will need to know the difference between low-sodium, diabetic exchanges, low-fat and other diets as necessary. Cooking for aging parents can be quite different than what your family is used to. A good idea is to try and get the family to eat healthier only cooking one meal for everyone. Sometimes that just isn't possible, but you wouldn't want to feel like a "short order" cook.
Medications need to be taken on time. You need to have a full understanding of your aging parents medication needs. You need to understand what they are for. Learn to set up medication reminders and pill boxes so no one forgets what needs to be taken and when. Keep any and all medications out of the reach of small children.
Lastly, you will want to make sure that you can provide a good quality of life. Aging parents need social stimulation. Making preparations to take them with you on family outings will be a challenge but rewarding for all. Get them into a senior program locally. Host functions for seniors at your home if possible. Senior centers even host outings and even vacations. Make sure there are provisions for wheelchairs, walkers and other needs.
Having your aging parents at home can be a rewarding experience. The work can be hard and time consuming but it is one of the greatest gifts we can give back to them.