Caring for an elderly parent is a just one of the ways you can give back some of the love they provided when you were growing up. Moving elderly parents into your home is a way of honoring the full circle of life, as the child becomes the caregiver to the parents. While all of this is a beautiful thing, it is important to approach moving elderly parents into your home with open eyes as well as an open heart. Reflecting on the following five considerations regarding caring for elderly parents will help the the process go as smoothly as possible.
Your Home Will Need to Be Elderly-Friendly
Just as people make their homes kid-friendly when expecting a new baby and pet-friendly when getting an animal companion, so too should your house be elderly-friendly when you are moving aging parents into your home. When accommodating your home for elderly parents, you should consider what their needs will be for both the near and distant future, as their quality of health inevitably changes. Two main goals are to make your elderly parents comfortable and safe while ensuring that the living arrangements are comfortable for you and any other members of your household.
The first important factor to consider is stairs. Most people opt to host their aging parents on the first floor of the home, in order to avoid stairs altogether. If this is not a possibility, you may have to at some point consider installing a ramp or device for assisting elderly parents on stairs. If there is no bathroom available on the first floor, that may also pose an issue with stairs and access.
Bathrooms also need to be modified, sometimes even to be wheelchair accessible. Smaller modifications include installing grab rails and toilet support rails, rearranging the furniture so there is space for walkers or wheelchairs, installing height adjustable and hand held shower heads, and installing an elevated toilet seat.
Other ways to make your home elderly-friendly include taping down rugs and carpets, securing electrical cords, and covering sharp edges and corners. Of course, making your parents’ bedroom as comfortable and welcoming as possible is also important.
You Will Have to Compromise
In an ideal world, caring for your elderly parents would fit neatly within your schedule. However, the reality is that you’re going to have to compromise your routine on a regular basis to adjust to your elderly parents’ ever-changing needs. Your parents are most likely going to be more set in their ways than you are, and rightly so, since they’ve done more living. This means that most of the time it will be up to you to compromise.
In addition to adapting your schedule to incorporate caring for your elderly parents, you may also have to adjust things like the type of groceries you buy, what times the television is on, how loud the radio is playing, and when to do household chores. All of these factors will vary depending on the level of care your parents require.
However, taking care of yourself should not be overlooked. Try to come up with compromises that address both your and your parents’ needs. Even if you end up compromising more than your parents, you should never completely sacrifice your own needs, or else you risk burning out quickly. Prepare yourself by having open discussions with your parents before they move in.
Members of Your Household Will Be Affected
Unless you are single and without pets, other members of your household will be affected by having your elderly parents move in. For example, in many cases, households with children accommodate the need for an extra bedroom by having the kids share a room. This undoubtedly affects the children, and their needs should be taken into consideration to avoid conflict.
Spouses, too, will be affected, as they will inevitably be helping with some of the caregiving. Aside from that, there is the basic adjustment to having more people living within the household space. The best way to ensure harmony is to always be mindful of the stress other members of your household are experiencing from adjusting to living with your elderly parents.
Lastly, don’t forget about the animal companions in your household. Dogs and cats especially can develop behavioral problems due to changes in their environments. If you notice Fido or Kitty starting to act out, you may need to make some adjustments to your schedule or to how the house has been arranged.
The Type of Care Can Change in an Instant
Ideally, the level of caregiving will gradually change and you will have enough notice to be prepare for, and accommodate, changes. Try to stay one step ahead by consulting with your parents’ physician and healthcare workers about what changes you can expect in your parents’ health and mobility.
Elderly parents with illnesses such as dementia or cancer will obviously require specialized care. If your parents do have an illness, be aware that the stage of the illness may change more suddenly than expected. Again, it is always best to consult with health experts so that you can create the best possible caregiving plan.
Even if your aging parents move into your home when they have minimal health concerns, everything can change in an instant. All it takes is one fall or accident and the level of care required is greatly impacted. When this happens, more adjustments to the household will need to be made and you will need to reevaluate the level of care you are able to provide.
Additional Assistance May Be Required
Many people want to take a “go it on their own” approach because they believe that they should be able to care for their aging parents by themselves. However, in most situations, people quickly realize that additional caregiving assistance is required in order to maintain a harmonious household and to provide their parents with the best quality of care possible.
The benefits of having caregiving assistance include a more flexible schedule, more time available to spend with other members of your household, a more experienced level of care for your parents, and some peace of mind for you.
Finding a quality caregiver to help you care for your elderly parents has never been easier. Alegre Home Care, for example, matches caregivers based on the needs of the individuals and the strengths of the employee. All caregivers from Alegre Home Care follow plans based on your specific needs and requests.
Are you moving your elderly parents into your home? If you have any questions, simply pick up the phone and give one of our neighborhood locations a call or try our toll free line at (800) 598-4777.