5 Tips for Keeping Elderly Parents Safe & Happy in Their Own Home
5 Caregiving Tips for Keeping Elderly Parents Safe & Happy
Did you know that approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months? [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.] That's about 13% of the entire US population.
Aging is a fact of life and it affects all families around the world. As adults, we often don't fully comprehend the extent to which our parents aging will affect them or how it will affect us. Caregiving is one of the toughest and most stressful jobs you'll ever have. This additional stress can lead to burnout and serious health issues.
As long as the risks are properly managed and it's a safe situation for everyone involved, keeping seniors at home can be a wonderful option. Here are 5 tips to reduce the caregiving load, decrease your stress and keep your parents at home for as long as possible.
1. Understand the Care Needed
When you're busy doing various tasks, you often don't have a chance to think about the overall picture. To understand how much caregiving time is really needed, make a list of all the tasks you're doing throughout the next couple of weeks. It's important to note if the task is completed during the day, at night or if it requires constant supervision.
After a couple weeks you'll have a clear overview of what your parents need help with and at what time.
2. Be Realistic About the Help You Can Provide
Now you can evaluate the difference between how much care is needed and how much care you can realistically provide. You need to find a balance of providing quality care without harming your own health. There is likely mismatch, which is why you're feeling so burned out.
There are two main types of activities that need to be met in order to provide a thorough and complete caregiving routine. Activities of Daily Living (commonly known as ADLs) are necessary for physical and emotional well-being. These are activities like self feeding, functional mobility, dressing, bathing and personal hygiene.
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (commonly known as IADLs) are activities that are required for independent functioning but not necessarily fundamental. IADLs most often refer to activities such as cleaning, shopping, managing money and preparing meals.
ADLs are most time consuming and may require professional help or investing in proper equipment that will make these tasks easier for your parents. IADLs are more often tasks that you can help out with along with other family members or a professional caregiver.
3. Get Extra Help
The best way to reduce your workload and stress is to get additional help. This is not easy to accomplish however it will make a huge different in your quality of life and the consistency of care your parents will receive.
It's important to keep looking for ways to save time and get tasks off your to do list. This will allow you to spend more quality time with your parents instead of constantly helping with daily living activities.
Here are some ideas:
Ask family members to commit to helping out on a regular schedule
Enroll your parents in an adult day program
Hire in home caregiving help or find a volunteer in your area
4. Reduce Financial Pressure
Caregiving for seniors is expensive and can lead to a large financial burden. Reducing costs can help with this pressure but often that isn't enough. Check for government benefits and other incentives that can potentially help offset these costs.
Benefits.gov has information on over 1000 government assistance programs
Benefitscheckup.org provides a comprehensive search where you can find programs for seniors with limited income
Contact your local Area Agency on Aging office. This is a great starting point for finding programs your parents may be eligible for
5. Get the Right Equipment
If your parents are living at home, it is probably not possible to have caregivers there at all times. Investing in the proper safety equipment will help reduce your stress while making their daily tasks easier and more enjoyable.