Your parents took care of you while you were younger. Now, you’re unsure of what steps to take to help them as they get older. You can learn how to help aging parents by first understanding the complications they face and the difficulty in meeting common day-to-day tasks. Many times, seniors recognize they need help, but admitting so is challenging. That’s why, as a child who wants to help, there are several steps you can take to ensure your family members receive the care they need.
One of the first steps is to understand that each person’s needs are unique. Some seniors need far more help with daily living tasks because of limitations in mobility or physical health. Others struggle with mental health difficulties, and what may seem simple to you is challenging for them. With so much to think about and the goal of not straining the parent-child relationship, you may not be sure how to help aging parents effectively. The following steps will help you through this process.
Step 1: Determine the Level of Care Needed Through Observation
A starting point in this process is observing what the specific needs are for your parent. Take the time to ask yourself hard questions about the amount of help your loved one asks for. Is care needed around the clock or do you help just a few times a week? Consider the following questions:
- Do your parents need help with medical care?
- Is the concern in the way they care for their home?
- Do they seem to be taking care of themselves with hygiene?
- Are they doing meal prep each day?
- Have you noticed any changes in their behavior that could indicate something else may be wrong?
By observing and not just relying on what information you may already know, you can better pursue the right type and level of care for your loved one.
Step 2: Have a Conversation With Your Parents
To know how to help your elderly parents, one of the most important things you can do is have an honest, heartfelt conversation with them. The key is to approach the talk from a perspective of wanting to help make things better and to ensure they can remain living in their home as long as they would like to.
This conversation can be uncomfortable for all involved. However, it is the best way to ensure you’re not making assumptions about their needs and goals. Block off a period of time to sit down and speak without accusation or anger. It’s hard to do, but the best way to get an authentic insight into your parents’ specific needs.
Step 3: Assess Their Situation From a Comprehensive View
Often, the need to gather more information is necessary. The more comfortable your family members are in this process, the better. However, some of the areas of specific focus should include:
Is the home safe?
Conduct a safety audit, if possible, to pinpoint anything that needs to be updated or repaired. You may want to consider investments that could make your loved one less at risk, such as the use of:
- Ramps to eliminate steps
- Handles in the bathroom and near steps
- Replacing doorknobs with handles that are easier to open
- Smart device tools that can help you monitor overall wellbeing
Are your parents able to manage their finances?
Another difficult conversation, but a necessary one, is about finances. It’s not uncommon for seniors to struggle with balancing their money as they get older. It’s also important to consider the cost of care and how able elders are to pay for their own care, whether that’s a part-time helper or constant care.
Is there an emergency plan in place?
Though it’s not something most people want to think about, consider an emergency plan next. If a fall occurs, how will your loved one get help? You may wish to consider smartphone access, in-home communication tools and tools to help with worst-case scenarios such as fires and theft.
How is their health?
Take into consideration the value of visiting a primary care physician with your parents to have a frank conversation about their health. Are they eating a healthy meal each day and getting the recommended exercise? Are they treating conditions properly and adhering to medical schedules?
Step 4: Set Realistic Expectations for What You Can Do
Many people wonder, “How can I help my elderly parent stay at home and balance my responsibilities?” Even if you want to provide for all your parents’ needs, it’s not always possible. Be realistic in what you can provide:
- Can you be there enough?
- How would committing to visiting their home daily impact your life?
- What challenges are you facing in managing their care from a physical standpoint?
Avoid making promises that you know will make it difficult for you to thrive. Maintaining the proper parent-child relationship is important to you from this vantage point, too.
Step 5: Explore the Professional Options Available
Turn to a professional for help. You can meet with a pro who can assess the situation and offer guidance on what your options are. This will allow you to create a schedule of care that fits with your goals and your parents’ needs. Most importantly, it helps them to be safe and maintain their independence as much as possible. Customized care plans are available that can provide 24/7 care if needed, or just a bit of help throughout the week.
Getting the Care Your Parents Need Starts With a Consultation
Your loved one needs care. With the information available about their specific needs, you can now help them to make better decisions to fit their goals.
At Custom Home Care, we recognize how important it is for you to learn how to help aging parents in a meaningful and appropriate way while still meeting your own expectations. We can help with all levels of service, including companionship, personal care, mobility needs and much more. Contact us now to learn how we can guide you to the best Chicago home care services for your parents.