Our parents do everything for us as we are growing up, but sometimes roles can reverse as our parents get older. Age-related illness could leave your parents unable to look after themselves. This was the case with my own parents, and I became their primary caregiver. They had a variety of health challenges including This could include physical health problems including neuropathy, kidney disease, arthritis and other issues. Of course there are other cases, when a decline in mental health may lead to forgetfulness or erratic behavior that could make parents a danger to themselves. In some cases, there might even be a combination of the two. Below are a few options for looking after elderly parents.
There are many options for looking after elderly parents, each with their own pros and cons. Some of these options may involve giving up time and energy, but may be relatively affordable. Others may involve offering large amounts of financial support, but may give you a lot of freedom when it comes to time. By researching each of these methods of care, you can decide which is the best option for your circumstances. Here are just some of the options to consider.
Encourage independent care with technology
For parents that don’t have severe health problems, in-person care may not be necessary. Assistance in the form of modern technology may be all that is needed to help your parent to cope independently.
This could involve making home upgrades such as putting in a stairlift to help your parent climb the stairs or installing smart lighting/heating so that they can control heating and lighting remotely. There may also be small appliances that you can invest in such a pill sorter machine (I could even use one these days!), or a specialized oven with an alarm. Such technology could be useful if your parent has started to become forgetful – it could remind them to take medication or take food out of the oven. It would be such a relief not to have to constantly worry about these things.
On top of using these appliances and upgrades, it could be important that your parent learns how to use the internet or a smartphone (if they aren’t already familiar with this technology). Becoming internet-savvy could allow your parents to shop online, saving them a drive to the store and walking through the store. This is great especially if they have a hard time getting around or in and out of their car. Websites like Facebook could meanwhile help aging parents to feel less lonely if they spend a lot of time housebound. They can keep up with friends, grandchildren and other relatives this way. Smartphone apps could help your parents control elements of the home such as the TV, heating and lighting all from one device. There are also fun apps to keep the brain stimulated.
You will likely need to be the one to teach your parent how to use this technology. If they are the stubborn type, this may take a lot of patience and persuasion. If it’s a choice between losing independence and learning to use technology, you’ll find that most stubborn parents choose the latter.
Become a caregiver for them
If your parent(s) cannot look after themselves independently all the time (even with the aid of technology), someone may need to step in and provide that extra support. You may decide to take on the role of caregiver.
There are many benefits to becoming a caregiver for your parent. It can be a chance to spend quality time with your parent in their later years. I found this to be true with my own parents. I enjoyed this time thoroughly, even though I was also busy caring for them up until I lost both of my parents. You don’t have to put your trust in other people to provide care, plus you can save money on hiring professional caregivers. You will likely be eligible for caregiver support, which could help you to afford their care. This is so helpful, as depending on how much time you spend with them, you may have to reduce work hours, or give up work altogether.
If your parent doesn’t live locally, they may have to move in with you, which could mean making improvements to your home. If you live with a partner or have children, you may also have to consider how this could affect them and whether they are happy with the decision.
Becoming a caregiver for an elderly parent can be a huge strain emotionally. It is important that you are still able to find the time to care for yourself, while also managing other responsibilities such as kids, pets or running a household. Too much stress could start to wear down your health, so you need to be in the right position to take on the role of carer. Don’t forget that it is okay to speak with a counselor or therapist if you are feeling overwhelmed.
Hire an in-house caregiver
You may be able to hire a professional carer to look after your parent. If you cannot care for your parent yourself due to other commitments, this could be a good solution. It may also allow your parent to stay at their home rather than moving in with you or going to a care center. It can be expensive, but sometimes it is the only choice. Agencies and private carers will each have different rates, so it’s worth spending time comparing prices.
When choosing a caregiver, make sure to interview multiple candidates and see how they get on with your parent. It could be worth looking up reviews online to get an idea of what other people think of each care service.
Consider a full-time care facility
Nursing homes can provide around-the-clock care for those that seriously need it. A lot of people can feel guilty about putting a relative in a care home, but sometimes it can be the most sensible solution if you do not have the time or resources to provide full time care yourself or hire an in-house caregiver.
Of course, nursing homes can often be the most expensive form of care. This is because you are paying for the care staff, the accommodation and the use of nursing home resources. Prices can vary from care home to care home, however many people can still struggle to afford even the cheapest nursing homes. You want to research thoroughly before placing your parent in any type of care home, talk to others whose parents live there, speak personally to staff, etc. There are plenty of horror stories out there of neglect, horrible sanitary conditions and mistreatment. For me personally, this would be a last resort. You would also want one near where you live so you can visit and check-in often.
Use a combination of all four
It’s possible to rely on multiple forms of care for elderly parents. This could allow you to get around the drawbacks of each care method, while also taking advantage of their benefits.
For instance, you may decide that your parents are able to live independently for most of the day, but that they may need someone to provide care early in the morning or in the evening (specifically with tasks like washing and dressing). This may be something that you can do yourself or you may be able to hire an at-home carer to do it.
Alternatively, you may be providing full-time care for your parent with the exception of a couple days per week when you may hire in-house care. You could even take your parent to a care home for a few days if you need respite.
Think about how much money you have to spend and the time you are able to offer. Don’t forget to also factor in your parent’s wishes – you cannot force them to adopt a certain care method that they do not want, unless due to mental deterioration they are unable to make the choice themselves.