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The Pros & Cons of Caring for an Elderly Parent at Home

The Pros & Cons of Caring for an Elderly Parent at Home

May 22, 2024

Caring for elderly parents at home is often the initial step in a senior’s long-term care plan. This method can be cost-effective and offers familiarity and comfort while giving family members time to decide if home care or a facility is more appropriate. While they are in the process of making a decision, the responsibility to care for an elderly parent typically falls on family and friends. In the U.S., around 37% and 38% of people report that they provide most of the help to aging parents, similar to those who say another family member does, respectively. Most adults have assisted their parents with errands, housework, or home repairs, regardless of their parents' need for help with managing affairs or personal care.

Benefits of Caring for an Elderly Parent at Home

Aging can significantly impact the overall well-being of the elderly, often leading to physical, cognitive, and emotional changes that can diminish their quality of life. Physical decline can result in reduced mobility and chronic health conditions, while cognitive changes may affect memory and decision-making abilities. Emotional well-being can also be affected, with increased risks of loneliness and depression. Family members often take on the responsibility of caring for the elderly to provide them with a sense of comfort and familiarity, ensuring their safety and well-being. Additionally, family care can be more cost-effective and allows for personalized attention that may not be available in institutional settings.

Things to Consider When Caring for an Elderly Parent

There are many things to consider when it comes to caring for your parents at home. Each situation is unique, but these are some things to consider:

Understanding how much care is required

Understanding how much care is required when caring for an elderly parent at home is essential for providing the best possible support. It involves assessing their physical, cognitive, and emotional needs to determine the level of assistance they require. This assessment includes evaluating their ability to perform daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating independently, as well as their cognitive function and emotional well-being. Perhaps it's more complex. Consider whether providing care for your parents at home might entail:

  • Managing medications
  • Assisting with getting in and out of bed or the bathroom
  • Helping them walk
  • Preparing and feeding them specialized diets

Create a Care Plan

After understanding the needed care for your elderly parent, you might want to create a care plan. It is an essential tool for organizing and managing the care of an elderly parent. It helps ensure that all aspects of their well-being are addressed systematically, providing a comprehensive approach to meet their physical, emotional, and social needs. By having a structured plan, caregivers can monitor their parent's condition, coordinate care among family members and professionals, and make informed decisions about their care and health.

Arrange For Home Modifications

Arranging for home modifications is a crucial tip in caring for the elderly at home as it enhances safety and accessibility, significantly reducing the risk of falls and injuries. Installing grab bars, ramps, adequate lighting, and non-slip flooring can make daily activities easier and more secure for elderly individuals. These modifications enable them to move around their home more independently and confidently, improving their overall well-being. By creating a safer living environment, caregivers can provide peace of mind for both themselves and their elderly loved ones, ensuring that their home remains a comfortable and supportive space.

Understand The Financial Requirements And Assistance Options

To support your parents, you might need to seek government assistance or other financial guide. You may also qualify for tax relief by claiming an elderly parent as a dependent. While some people can leave their jobs to care for their parents full-time, others cannot afford to do so. In such cases, you might wonder if Medicare can compensate you for caring for your parents. This is possible, so it's important to check if you or your family qualify for this type of financial support.

Considering your financial situation is crucial when caring for your parents, as it will help you determine the level of help you can afford.

Prioritize Activities Of Daily Living (ADL)

While the body ages, the mind remains youthful. This is often true for many elderly adults living at home. Despite needing assistance, they still desire to maintain their independence by performing daily activities such as self-feeding, bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, and using the toilet.

If your elderly loved one has mobility issues, you can help with some of these tasks, but it’s important to encourage them to do as many as they can on their own.

Respite Care

It's important to recognize when you need a break. Respite care provides temporary relief for primary caregivers, allowing you to rest and recharge. This can include hiring a professional caregiver for a few hours a day or arranging for short-term stays in a care facility. You must understand that there will be times when you aren’t able to meet your parents’ needs, such as:

  • Driving them to appointments 
  • Meal planning/preparation
  • Extra help around the house
  • Laundry or errand running
  • Unexpected doctor visit

Respite care ensures that you maintain your well-being while continuing to provide high-quality care for your elderly parents. 

Don't Let Caring For Aging Parents At Home Take Over Your Life

Caring for aging parents at home can be stressful and demanding. While providing care is a noble and necessary responsibility, it is essential to balance this role with your own personal life to prevent burnout and maintain your well-being. Taking time for yourself allows you to maintain your health, both physically and mentally. Regular breaks, exercise, and social activities are vital for your well-being, enabling you to be a better caregiver. Sharing caregiving duties with family members, friends, or professional caregivers ensures that you don’t carry the burden alone. This support system can provide much-needed relief and diverse care perspectives.

Challenges Caring for Your Elderly Parent

The transition from child to caregiver or what we call “role reversal” can be challenging for both parties. Elderly parents may resist taking on a more dependent role, while caregivers may find it difficult to assert authority or make decisions on behalf of their parents. If these difficulties happen, try to converse openly and honestly with your parents about their needs, preferences, and concerns. This can help maintain a sense of respect and understanding between both parties.

Don't hesitate to seek support from other family members, friends, or support groups. Caregiving can be overwhelming, and having a support system can provide emotional, practical, and respite support.

Next Steps for Caregivers

The needs of your elderly parents will evolve, requiring continuous adaptation. This highlights the importance of regular reassessment and ongoing monitoring of health-related concerns. Always be vigilant for signs of mental health issues or dementia, as aging affects not only physical capabilities but also cognitive functioning. As their caregiver, stay informed about advancements in elderly care and be open to incorporating new strategies and resources.

Providing care requires careful planning, dedication, and compassion, and it’s essential to strike a balance between meeting their needs and ensuring their holistic well-being. Seek support from family, friends, or support groups to navigate the complexities of caring for an elderly parent at home. Trusted professionals, such as those at Tembo Health, can offer valuable assistance in understanding and managing dementia-related cases. Click here to learn more about how Tembo Health can help you care for your elderly parents with dementia from home.

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