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Caring for Elderly Parents

October 19, 2021
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The world is shifting. There are more options for older adults to age comfortably. People are living longer and choose have a more independent living style. This means seniors aging at their long term home with their partner or even alone. Many healthy seniors prefer to stay at home, with the comforts they have always had instead of moving into a retirement home.

  • Without the constant supervision and availability of nursing staff, you will need to take more initiative to check up on your aging parents
  • The decision to live at home can save your family money and give your parents back a sense of purpose

Advances in Senior Care Technology

With technological and medical advances, it has become the new normal for seniors live well into their eighties and nineties. As more older adults have the means and ability to live at home into old age, we need to think of new, modern solutions for care.

The combination of these two demographic changes leads us into some uncharted territory. How do you support your aging parents as they continue to live dignified and independent lives in their own homes?

Coming to Terms With Aging Parents

As we grow up and into adulthood, looking after aging parents becomes our reality. Even if you know you have to assume responsibility of our parents, the new duties can affect your family dynamics. This foresight can even lead to pre-mature stress or worry as you ponder how to take on the role of a caretaker.

  • Often times, people do not fully comprehend the extent to which their parents will be affected by their aging
  • If they are already seniors and are living independently in good health, there may not be any dramatic changes

However, this could change quite quickly. A sudden fall at home or surprise diagnosis for a medical condition can change your care duties.  it is best to be prepared and knowledgeable. Additional care on a short-term or long-term basis might be needed immediately and it is good to know how to access resources quickly. 

How to Overcome Common Challenges of Having Elderly Parents

An overall decline in physical and mental vitality can lead to visible changes to your parent's standard of life and emotional well-being. These changes can be immediate like an accident, or can be subtly happening over time like memory loss.

It can be difficult to detect these little shifts if you are busy with your own work life or personal issues. Here are tips for how to have difficult conversations about their shift in ability and how to discuss the need for temporary in home care.

Have in-home care and support available when possible

  • This can mean visiting your parents at their home more often, installing devices for ease of accessibility, or hiring temporary help
  • It is better for both parties when you more aware you are of how aging can affect your aging parents and what options are available
  • There are a number of things to consider when thinking about adding additional home supports for your aging parents

Do not be too hard on yourself

  • It can take a while for your parent to bring the problem up
  • Your parents may feel embarrassed or not understood—the fear of being put into a retirement home can overcome their need to ask for help
  • You may want to pry for possible issues when you detect something is wrong

Be direct but considerate with your questions

  • It will take time for your parents to open up with awkward or confusing moments
  • Use empathy when forming questions
  • Have patience when listening

Basic Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

A daily routine is essential to the dignity, safety, and physical and emotional well-being of elderly parents. These are the most basic and important activities and it is critical that these daily requirements are met effectively. The basic activities of daily living usually include the following:

  • Self-feeding
  • Functional mobility (getting in and out of bed, in and out of a chair, getting to the phone)
  • Dressing
  • Bathing or showering
  • Personal hygiene (such as brushing hair, brushing teeth, shaving, grooming)
  • Toilet hygiene (such as getting to the toilet, self-cleaning, getting up from the toilet)

There are options available if your parents live with physical conditions or have medical problems that do not allow them to do these activities on their own. You and your siblings can take turns providing care for your parents during the day and night, alternating shifts.

Hire Temporary Help for Seniors

If you do not live the area or do not have the time, you can hire a temporary caregiver. In-home nurses are also an option is your parents needs medical assistance, like taking medicine or receiving injections. Depending on your budget and needs, you can find an option available near you on online care resources like Caremada.  

Impaired Mobility in Elderly Parents

Your parent may be living with an injury or medical issue that impairs their mobility and makes it hard to get around. This can make it difficult or impossible for them to look after themselves properly. Personal household and grooming activities below can be ignored or forgotten. 

  • Bathing
  • Changing in and out of clothing
  • Preparing healthy meals
  • Cleaning the home
  • Vacuuming the carpet
  • Doing the laundry
  • Shopping for groceries 

 If this is the case, you need to find your parents appropriate help. Whether you provide care directly for them or hire a third party to provide care, be aware that there are many options and assistive equipment that can help.

This can be as simple as a hiring a cleaner to deep clean the home biweekly or getting grocery delivery service to drop off essentials. Or, you may need around the clock care, such as a live-in aide or live-in nurse. 


Long Term Mobile Impairment vs. Short Term Mobile Impairment in Older Adults

There are 2 categories of people living with mobility issues. They can be due to accidents and be recovered from. This is known as short-term impairment. However, if your parent is living with a medical condition or chronic pain, they have long term mobility impairment.  

Impaired mobility can be a long-term impairment

  • Your parent lives with chronic pain from a major accident or is diagnosed with a permanent medical issue that cannot be fully recovered from

Impaired mobility can also be short-term impairment

  • Your parent is recovering from surgery or minor accident
  • Your parent only needs temporary help while they recover
  • This is more manageable and only lasts for a few weeks up to a year

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Other daily living activities that are less critical but still related to independent living are called "Instrumental Activities of Daily Living". Examples are listed below:

  • Cooking and Preparing Meals
  • Cleaning and Maintaining the Home
  • Laundry
  • Shopping
  • Running Errands
  • Managing Money and Paying Bills
  • Communicating on the Phone or Through Other Devices
  • Taking Prescribed Medications

Importance of Activities of Daily Living for Well-Being

The addition of these minuscule tasks leads to the make up of your parents' entire day. Small tasks like brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, and being able to leave the house regularly to run errands are entirely possible for you.

However, for your aging parents who live independently at home, these can be quite labour intensive activities that require a lot of physical and mental energy. Even remembering to go on a daily walk can be difficult. 

  • It prevents elderly adults from developing a sense of hopelessness and perhaps depression.
  • You can seek third-party options that can help your elderly parents take care of themselves.
  • Take an honest look at where you parent needs support.
  • Assess all the possible solutions in order get them the help they need.

Being Prepared Will Result in a Better Outcome

Independent living and aging in their own home is the choice of most seniors. However, staying independent and at home may require several adjustments to the home, as well as ongoing support from a caregiver who's a family member or professional caregivers. It is important to think ahead about what services you or your parents might need.

Ultimately, most people take on some type of caregiver role for their aging parents. Caring for aging parents means making sure that they are safe and happy. If their well-being is ensured, then you will also have peace of mind. Caring for elderly parents doesn't need to be a burden. Caregiver support is available. In addition to family members, there are many resources to help you in caring for your elderly parents. Finding the right mix for their welfare and happiness is a dynamic condition that will change over time. Caremada is an excellent resource and we welcome you to become familiar with the resources it can offer even before you have an actual need for the same. 

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