What is aging in place? Useful tips to make it successful for your parents
They were strong and looked invincible. You turned to them for confidence and confirmation. They took care of you from the beginning. They worked to make sure you had the happiest memories growing up. They might not have given you everything you wanted but they did the best they could and did a great job raising you. They made home the place you looked forward to coming back to, from school, work and even to visit during the holidays
Now you are all grown up. Your parents are older and now they’re the ones who need your help. With age comes challenges, the stairs they carried you up are getting hard for them to climb. The kitchen they used to expertly navigate to make your favorite meals now is too much of a chore for them to use.
For one reason or another, you don't want to commit your parent to an elderly care institution and prefer to take care of them yourself. This is where aging in place comes it.
What is Aging in Place
Aging in place is where the elderly person decides to stay at home as they age instead of going to an assisted living facility. It is a great option because the elderly get to stay in familiar surroundings which holds a sentimental value to them.
Why People Practice it
There is a sense of independence when you live in your own home in your sunset years. The home is full of memories. It could be that wall hanging that a child drew, a framed photo of the whole family in a certain year or the rocking chair that was used to lull the now grown-up babies to sleep. Hosting friends and family gatherings. There is a certain comfort and satisfaction in aging at home that assisted living doesn’t provide.
If your older loved one is choosing to age in place, here are some tips to help you take care of them and ensure they have a comfortable life in their sunset years.
Talk About Aging In Place With Your Parents
Sit down with your parents and begin talking to them about aging in place. Plan with them and together come up with a plan that makes sure your parent is safe at home. Talk to your parents about what is important to them. Listen to their opinions and don’t just impose your will, because aging parents need to feel heard and that their wishes are valued. They may want their privacy respected, they may feel overwhelmed with the household chores, worried about being lonely, no longer feel safe driving and so on. You need to address these concerns and have a solution to most of them or all of them if you can. But most of the time, your older loved one will not want to admit that they can no longer do some things. To this end, make sure to frame chores and activities that they will need to give up as future bridges to cross.
When you bring up the hot button topic of when to give up driving, make sure to set an agreed upon age like 85years old. This way, it is something they can agree to and predetermine. When the 85th birthday rolls around, they still won’t be happy to give up the keys, but the discussion is not that there is something wrong with them, but rather that they agreed this was the year they would give up driving.
1. Address Safety Concerns
You will need to address the safety needs of your parents as they age at home. Keep in mind the risk of falling, burning, poisoning and so on. Make sure your talk with your parent centers around how to prevent such risks by making adjustments around the home and how they will adapt to the changes. Look for simple and effective ways of preventing falls and review fire safety measures and practices. Make sure that your parent can access the phone easily in case of an emergency.Ensure that all appliances, electric cords, and power outlets are in great working condition. Install smoke detectors and regularly check to ensure that they are in proper working order.
Discuss measures to prevent poisoning incidents by installing a carbon monoxide and radon detector, have all medications put into daily sets to prevent accidental overdosing, clean out the old cleaning supplies and only keep a minimal amount of these cleaning agents.
2. Discuss Caregiving Options
It is also important to discuss with your parents about the available care options. There are in-home care options that are quite convenient. Ask your parents what they would like. Will they want a housecleaner who comes in once a week and have their meals delivered. You could also check out various home care providers and take a look at the various care options that they have. Most of these professional care services help with meals, housekeeping, bathing, exercise, medication reminders, laundry, grocery shopping, transport, companionship, and care.
3. Plan on a care-giving budget
As you make this lifestyle decisions for your parent, remember there will be financial effects. Create a list of your parent's resources and how they might be used to support their caregiving activities. If their resources are minimal, plan with your resources to ensure that they get the best and affordable home care services. You could also have a look at low-cost or free public benefits on government websites.
4. AccommodateThe Changes To Their Daily Routine
Review the regular activities of your parents and consider how their abilities could change. Eating, bathing, dressing and movement abilities should be reviewed. Talk to your parents about meal options or hiring a caregiver to help around the house. Make the bathroom safer to avoid falls. You could have handrails professionally installed and put non-skid bath mats, a shower chair, a handheld showerhead, and a raised toilet seat or frame. Make it easier for them to bath, dress, move around the house and do other activities. Ensure that the changes around the home help to improve the quality of life for your parents especially if you don’t live with them.
5. Overcoming loneliness
If you have only one parent and they are living alone, then they will feel lonely at some point. Remember that loneliness can cause chronic illness, inflammation and reduced brain function. It is never a good thing. For that reason make plans to ensure that they stay connected with others. Make plans to visit regularly with your kids and other family members. Talk to other family members, friends, community members and have them help out by stopping by your parent's home and visiting them regularly. There are also adult day care centers and local senior centers. Perhaps you could check out any near your parent and have them visit them regularly to build connections with people there. Another option is, of course, installing a convenient app on their phones to help them keep in touch with other family members. The internet has made keeping in touch easier.
Aging in place can be a great experience for your parent. Prepare well and work with your parent to ensure that they are comfortable. With a plan in place, you will worry less and there will be fewer emergencies. Give them a great opportunity to age gracefully and enjoy their sunset years in peace.