Home Care for Aging Parents

Home care for aging parents is the best solution when your parent chooses to remain in their own home. At some point an elder loved one may need some help with caring for themselves and their household.  There are a few choices for care. Older woman with home care aideMost common is the spouse or an adult son/daughter becomes the primary caregiver.  Whether the need for care is physical (stroke, Parkinson, MS, weakness, etc.) or cognitive (dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, memory impairment, etc.) it is hard to care for an adult.  The caregiver must ensure safety, proper hygiene, diet, exercise, appointments, housecleaning, laundry, medication reminders amongst other responsibilities.

Avoiding Burnout

Pacing yourself as the primary care partner is essential. You don’t want to become the statistic (60%) of the caregiver who passes before the person they are caring for. You have your own needs and health concerns to manage.  Figure out how much care is needed? Usually, more care is needed in the morning. Sometimes it is needed at bedtime or throughout the night.  Take a closer look and record for a week what you are doing for your loved one and when. Once you see it written out how much care is needed, you can more realistically evaluate what you can do easily and what tasks you could use help with. You can avoid burnout and harm to your own physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual by adding ways to provide the care needed.

Types of Help 

To get other forms of help, keeping an open mind and flexibility are important. No one will care more for your spouse/parent than you. However, a trained person or program can provide a caring and safe atmosphere. Having help either at night or a few times a week during the day will allow you to rest and recharge.

~Consider an Adult day program.

~Explore volunteer services, maybe through your county,  house of worship or community service organization.

~Investigate what local programs are available like transportation or meal delivery services.

~Take up offers of assistance or ask for assistance from friends, relatives, or neighbors for errands, some shopping, appointments, meal preparation.

~Order medical supplies and groceries online which are then delivered. It allows you to buy in bulk and saves a lot of time and energy.

~Hire a trained and certified caregiver/aide.  Refer to your log on when you can use the most help and build your schedule accordingly.

Share Responsibility and Plan Ahead

Even if you are doing a terrific job alone of providing care, at some point you will need to share some of the duties. It is better to have conversations with other family members before you are overburdened and ready to collapse.  It is important to share with others what you see as your loved one’s longer-term needs and how much you are currently providing. Give the concerned family and friends the chance to help. They won’t if they don’t want to. There are different types of help. One person may be able to devote time, another, money, and others some expertise to research other options and resources. Developing a schedule between a few people of when they can come to help and what they can help with will give you respite.

Be honest with yourself on how much help you will accept and why you may not want any help. Don’t let “perfection” be the enemy of the good. Be prepared for a time when remaining at home may not be the best choice or even possible. Promises made when you are younger and healthier perhaps should not be kept when needs change dramatically. The real promise is that you will care for the person and assure their safety, not necessarily the location of that care. If your loved one needs more care and help than you and an informal network can provide, it is time to explore Assisted Living alternatives or even skilled care.