Aging in place is becoming a popular option for baby boomers and older adults who prefer to live at home during their golden years. Instead of moving to a retirement community or other type of elder care facility, many are deciding to live with their grown children. In fact, it is so common that more than 65 million people (29 percent of U.S. population) each provide about 20 hours of care for a chronically ill, aged, or disabled family member or friend.
Taking care of an aging parent may also mean changing some aspects of your home as well as reevaluating your family’s dynamics. You don’t want your mom or dad feeling like an outsider; but you want to make sure you and your family can continue to function as normally as possible. Here are some tips to help you as you and your parent enter this next chapter in your lives.
- Safety First
The goal of moving a parent into your home is to make their daily life easier. There are, however, several safety issues that need to be addressed first and that includes deciding which home improvements, if any, need to be made. These updates can include:
- Installing grab bars in the bathrooms and hallways
- Purchasing a personal emergency response system
- Adding anti-slip mats in the bathroom
- Providing good lighting throughout the house, especially in hallways and bathroom
- Installing accessible shelving in the kitchen and closets
- Removing trip hazards such as throw rugs, cables, cords, and unnecessary clutter
- Home Sweet Home
You want your parent to feel at home in your house and not like an outsider. Some ways to make your house feel more like a home are:
- Bring some of your parent’s furniture into your residence, like a favorite lounge chair, cabinet or bed
- Try to make room for your parent’s pet as this will help ease some of the loneliness that they may feel
- Purchase a cell phone for your parent to give them a sense of independence and help them stay connected to the outside world
- Set Down the Groundwork
The last thing you and your parent want when moving in together is to drive each other crazy, so it’s best to lay all the groundwork before the big move. Both parties need to understand that this move may be difficult, so the smoother things go the better. This includes cooking meals, sharing a bathroom, or even disciplining the younger grandchildren. Talk about the role each person will have in the household, as well as expectations, prior to living together.
- Exercise on a Regular Basis
Senior citizens have been known to lead sedentary lives sitting down for long periods of time, which can decrease energy, increase cardiovascular disease and reduce blood circulation to their legs and feet. Activities such as an early morning walk outdoors or at a mall indoors can give them the boost of energy and motivation they need. Providing them with a helpful and fun health tool, like one of the best fitness trackers for seniors, will allow them to track their daily step count and complete fun challenges that keep their mind and body fit. These waterproof and comfortable senior fitness trackers are a great tool to keep your parents motivated and help them exercise regularly.
- Keeping Busy
Keeping your loved ones’ minds active is a great energy booster. By taking on a new hobby such as reading, gardening, art, or a craft, you are helping them learn something new and allowing your brain to remain active. Hobbies also allow seniors to socialize with others, breaking them away from the isolation of being alone. If you’re worried about your parent driving or getting to their desired destination, consider a senior-friendly transportation service. This will allow them the freedom, and safety, to get out of the house for some social interactions.
- Respite Care
Having your elderly parent move in with you so you can be their in-home caregiver can, at times, be trying. There will come a time when you need a break. No one can care for another person 24/7 without taking a day or two off regularly. It’s not good for you nor is it good for the adult who you are caring for.
Respite is the temporary care of a person either at home or in an elder care facility where someone other than you handle the day-to-day needs and duties. Options for respite care include:
- Assistance from family and friends
- Hire an elder companion
- Adult day services
- Assisted living respite
- Honor Your Parent’s Dignity and Independence
An elder care facility can take away some of a person’s freedoms. Your parent would no longer have a choice of when to eat, take a shower or even when go to bed at night. Living with a family member, however, still allows your parents some of these freedoms without clumping you in with an entire group of senior citizens. Home care is less restrictive, and patients or their family members can choose who will take care of them.
Aging is a natural process, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. If you are planning to care for an aging parent, follow these tips to help ensure a smooth transition for both you and your parent.
– By Jennifer Thayer
Jennifer Thayer is a technology writer who is passionate about exploring new ways technology can be used to make day-to-day tasks easier. Follow her on Twitter.