How To Help Your Elderly Parents Age in Place
Your parents spent their adult lives raising and caring for you, ensuring that you had a comfortable home and were provided for until you could provide for yourself. Now that your parents are in their golden years, you may be facing the decision of how you can best care for them. Although nursing homes or assisted living facilities may seem like an easy option for care, about 90% of seniors want to stay in their own home as they age. This large percentage makes it important that you ask your parents what they actually want when you start considering options for their care.
Not all elderly parents will be able to age in place, however, there are many steps you can take to make that a possibility for your parents. Let’s take a look at the most useful tips for helping your parents age in place and you’ll be able to determine if you can make that possibility a reality for your parents.
Talk To Your Parents About Aging in Place
Having an open and honest conversation with your parents about aging in place is the best place to start. Even if you think it’s too early to have this conversation, it’s never too early to come up with a plan for their care and wellbeing. By having a discussion together, you can all create a care plan that allows them to stay safe at home.
Start the conversation by asking your parents what is important to them and actively listening to their answers. As people age, they can start to feel like their voices aren’t heard so actively listening is the best way to ensure that you value their desires and wishes. Some elderly parents may primarily be concerned with how they can keep up with their home maintenance, some may be mostly concerned about fall risks in their home, and others may be more worried about the isolation that comes with living alone. Knowing what your parents are most concerned with and how they envision their future in their home will help you all come up with a plan that addresses their safety and options for care.
Address Safety Concerns
As older adults are at a higher risk of falling, burning themselves, and having other accidents at home, a major part of helping your parents age in place is helping them adapt their home to prevent these risks.
Falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for seniors in the United States, making it important that you take steps to help minimize risks of falls. If your parents’ house has multiple stories, rearrange their home so that everything they need is on the first floor. This means setting up their bedroom on the first floor and moving any supplies they regularly need out of the basement or attic. If it isn’t possible to make the first floor of their home their primary living space, consider installing a stairlift that can help them navigate multiple levels without having to walk up and down stairs.
You’ll also want to be sure that the kitchen and bathroom are outfitted to their needs. If they have issues reaching into cupboards to get food or kitchen supplies, help them move items into more accessible locations. Invest in non-slip flooring and grab bars for their shower or bathtub to make the bathroom a safer place to be. If your parents need to use a wheelchair or walker, you’ll want to make sure that the doorways in the home are big enough to accommodate these assistive devices and that there are ramps inside and outside the home.
Help Out with Home Maintenance
Keeping up with home maintenance is a big task for anyone and can be very daunting for older people who cannot get around as well as they used to. A great way you can help your parents age in place is to alleviate their concerns about maintaining the house. There are a couple of ways you can help them maintain their home and the one you choose will depend on your current circumstances.
One way is to help with the maintenance yourself. You could offer to mow their lawn every week or come over regularly to help with the cleaning. If you can’t manage these responsibilities on your own, get your other family members involved. Reaching out to your family and friends is the best way to get widespread help for your parents and will take the burden off of you to do everything for them.
When there are maintenance issues that you can’t fix yourself, offer to help your parents find a professional who can fix the issues. You can look online to help them find service people in their area, such as an affordable and trustworthy plumber to fix their leaking sink. Even though this may seem like a small maintenance issue, an undetected leak that continues for a year could cost your parents about $164.50 in those 12 months. Helping them fix maintenance issues like a leaky pipe can also help them financially.
You can also help with preventative maintenance in this way. For instance, you could figure out when their hot water heater was installed. As conventional water heaters last 10 to 12 years, you could then determine if theirs is due for a replacement and help them plan for that practically and financially. Familiarize yourself with the major appliances in their home and plan out when they will need tune-ups or full replacements so that the high costs of maintaining appliances don’t take them by surprise.
With planning and effort, it can be possible for your parents to live out the rest of their lives in their own homes. By putting in this planning and effort to do so, you’ll help them avoid the mental and emotional stress of going to a nursing home and live happier, more fulfilling lives.