Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Dos and Don’ts
You may notice your elderly parents aren’t able to take care of themselves or the house as well as they used to. They may be missing appointments, are not paying bills on time, or are having more medical issues. How do you know when it is time to arrange for care for your aging parents, what level or frequency of care they will need, what resources are available and how will it be paid for? Read on for helpful tips for how to get help taking care of elderly parents.
How to Care for Elderly Parents?
One option is for you, another family member, or a friend to take care of elderly parents at home. While this may be the most cost-effective option, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons of this choice:
- Will quitting your job mean you lose necessary income or benefits such as health insurance?
- If you leave your job now, will it be difficult for you to return to the workforce later?
- Could this change have detrimental effects on your own retirement?
- Do you live close enough to make caring for your parents feasible?
- Can your own physical and mental health manage the burden of taking care of elderly parents at home?
There may be simple changes that can be made to make it safer for your parents to remain in their home without you, or someone else, needing to be as hands-on with the parent at all times. These include:
- Remove cords and rugs from floors that could cause them to trip
- Add grab bars on stairs and in bathrooms
- Ensure all appliances and equipment work well and are within easy reach
- Make a phone easy to access in case they need to call for help (consider a safety notification system such as Life Alert or a watch that can sense a person has fallen and send out an alert.)
- Utilize the help of occupational therapists, doctors, geriatric care managers, or at-home specialists who can evaluate your parents’ home and situation and recommend changes that may allow them to stay living in that home longer.
Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Do’s
The following are tips to help you in caring for your elderly parents:
Do include your parents as a part of the decision. Allow them to have a say in the services they are receiving, to choose the caregiver that best fits their personality, and to choose when the caregiver comes and the services they provide. If your parent feels their wants and needs are being met, they may be less resistant to accepting care.
Do give your parents time to ask questions and do give clear, succinct answers. Do address any concerns or fears they may have. Do explain how this change will help to ease some of the fears and concerns you have for them. Click here for more tips on how to talk about caregiving for your elderly parents.
Do seek outside help. Below are some national and local organizations and resources that can provide information:
- The National Association for Home Care & Hospice offers lists of caregiver options in the local area.
- The Medicare website ranks local nursing homes and home-health agencies in terms of quality and care.
- The Senior Corps program matches senior volunteers (people 55+) to provide assistance to other seniors.
Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Don’ts
Don’t throw all options and possibilities at your parents at once. Talk about care options in small chunks, so they don’t become overwhelmed.
Don’t order your parents to accept care. Help them to see the benefits to the service, so they go along with it willingly, making the change as positive an experience as possible.
Common Questions about Caregiving for your Elderly Parents
What type of care does my parent need?
There are several different types of care options available including, in-home care, adult day care, adult foster homes, and assisted living/nursing home facilities. You should consider the following factors when determining which option best fits your parents’ needs:
- Do they only need help a few hours a week or do they require 24-hour care?
- Besides yourself, do they have other friends, family or neighbors who can support them?
- What are their medical and cognitive needs?
How do you know if you need to look into caregiving for your elderly parents?
A good indicator that you may need to consider care for your aging parents is whether or not they can perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) independently. These include cooking for, feeding and dressing themselves; cleaning the house; running errands, managing their money and medications; using the phone, the bathroom and bathing independently, and being independently mobile.
How to pay for care for your elderly parents?
Make sure you’re aware of the financial resources available to help pay for professional care for your elderly loved one. Private pay is always an option, as is a Reverse Mortgage, Long Term Care and a life insurance policy. Below is a list of programs that can provide financial aid in certain situations:
- Private Pay means that the full cost of care is provided by the family without the assistance of insurance or other agencies. It is often one of the most widely accepted forms of payment.
- Long Term Care Insurance is designed to fill the gaps Medicare and Medicaid can often leave when the policyholder has a long-term illness or is in need of extended care. Insurance typically covers non-medical but specialized need assistance like in-home or assisted care.
- The VA can also help pay for facility-based or in-home care for people who meet certain disability and service qualifications. VA services may also cover mental health counseling, financial assistance with costs associated with doctor’s visits, some Respite Care, caregiver training and education and in some situations may pay a small stipend to a caregiver.
- You can check with your local Area Agency on Aging, usually available through your county government, and the National Council on Aging for other funding sources that may be available.
- Benefits.gov: This government website offers information on possible benefits available for your parents (such as Social Security or Medicare).
- Benefitscheckup.org: This website also outlines the benefits people may qualify for, and it provides information on financial aid programs for prescriptions, housing, transportation, assistance, paying for utility bills or food (such as SNAP—Food Stamps) and other financial and legal aid.
How to Get Help Taking Care of Elderly Parents
At Advanced Nursing + Home Support, our compassionate team of skilled caregivers wants to help our clients stay happy and healthy in their homes for as long as possible. Our goal is to work with your family to come up with a care plan that best fits each individual situation.
If you have a loved one who needs home care in Maryland or the D.C. area or have questions about how in-home care can assist your elderly parent, contact Advanced Nursing + Home Support today. We provide unparalleled service to help ensure our clients can maintain the highest level of independence possible as they age. Contact us online or by phone at 240-414-4147 to request more information.