Keeping Aging Parents at Home: 3 Key Tips

Caregiver Agency, Huntington, NY

If you have aging parents, then you know it can be an ever-evolving situation with their care needs and changing health.  There are five stages of aging, and each stage has its own challenges with regards to maintaining independence and quality of life.  As aging parents go through these stages, they often call upon their adult children to help with the various difficulties they are experiencing.  This typically starts small in terms of the assistance needed, for example, picking up groceries or driving to doctor appointments, and gradually grows as the elderly parent’s needs grow.

The five stages of aging are outlined below (“Caregiving Through The Five Stages of Ageing”,

Stage 1: Independence

During this early stage of the aging process, the vast majority of older adults will stay in their own home. At this stage, they can still look after all of their needs such as transportation, finances and health care. They may have experienced a minor decline in mental and physical ability, but not enough to have an impact on their life. An older adult is still in good health with a high quality of life at this point.

Older adults in this stage likely won’t need much help in terms of caregiving but it may be a good time to talk to them about what they may need in the future and make necessary changes in preparation.

Stage 2: Interdependence

In stage 2, older adults are likely to start finding everyday tasks more difficult. Physical and mental activity will both decline, and they may start to forget things. During stage 2, they will be able to do many things on their own but not everything, and as such, their quality of life is likely to suffer if they do not have assistance.

A caregiver may be necessary to assist with one or more activities, such as driving, shopping, or paying bills. This can be one of the more difficult stages of ageing, as the older adult may be resisting asking for help, or may not feel comfortable engaging a formal caregiver. Offering regular help with the tasks that you notice they are struggling with is the most valuable course of action at this stage. It’s also important to ensure the older person is staying on top of any medicines that they have to take for conditions they may have. 

Stage 3: Dependency

By stage 3, age-related changes are becoming more noticeable, and an older adult is likely to be experiencing difficulty doing a number of everyday tasks by themselves. Many older adults will be having more difficulty with physical and mental activity, and as such, it may no longer be appropriate for them to drive or travel to places independently.

The quality of life for older adults will be significantly impacted in the ‘Dependency’ stage, and as such, they will start to need more notable caregiving assistance. In some cases, this assistance will come from a professional healthcare provider, and in others, a family caregiver may take on the role. A caregiver may manage the older adult’s medication, monitor their physical condition and prepare meals. It may be necessary to make modifications to the home to ensure the safety of the older adult; for example, an emergency medical alert system may be necessary.

Stages 4 & 5: Crisis Management and End of Life

If a senior reaches the point of crisis management and end of life care, they will typically need to be monitored round the clock, as well as having access to formal health care facilities. At this point, it may be appropriate for the older adult to be in an assisted living facility, nursing home, or hospice.

If you’re currently caring for an older relative, or if you think you will be in the near future, you can find out information on the support available for carers from the Better Health Channel: Looking after yourself as a carer. If you want to find out more about the content of this blog, and how our courses or workshops may be able to help you as a carer, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

When an elderly parent wishes to stay at home there are several factors to consider.  The first factor is ensuring that the home environment is safe and adaptable.  The second factor is to assess your elderly parent’s ability to manage his or her activities of daily living (i.e. bathing, dressing, eating, taking medications, etc.).  The third factor is to evaluate your elderly parent’s quality of life at home.  Is mom happy staying at home?  Is dad able to stay social with his friends at home?  Below are three key tips to address these factors.

  1. Home Modifications and Equipment. Go through your aging parent’s home and evaluate the environment.  Look for potential safety hazards and opportunities to make the home more accessible.  Some of the common modifications and equipment that older adults add to their home to make it safer and more accessible include, stair lifts, walk-in showers, wheelchair ramps, shower chairs, grab bars in the bathroom, and mechanical lift chairs.
  2. In-Home Caregiving Services. Assess your parent’s ability to carry out his or her activities of daily living and hire a caregiver who can help with those activities that your parent has difficulty completing.  A caregiver is a professionally trained helper who will come to the home on a weekly basis to assist an older adult with daily activities such as, cooking, light housekeeping, bathing, dressing, transportation, errands, and companionship.  Caregivers can be hired through a home care agency to visit your loved one during the daytime, overnight, and even on a 24/7 live-in basis.
  3. Enhancing Quality of Life.  It may not seem quite as important when you’re addressing your aging parent’s essential needs but      ensuring his or her quality of life is a pertinent item as it could prevent or improve mental health issues such as, anxiety, depression, and even short-term memory loss.  Quality of life can be addressed in many ways such as, having social outlets, having a sense of purpose, and having hobbies or activities.  Facilitating ways for your loved one to enhance his or her quality of life could come in the form of arranging transportation to a local senior center, involving him or her in volunteer opportunities, and connecting him or her with activities such as, local library programs, VFW clubs, online classes, knitting clubs, gardening clubs, or other common interest groups.