Top Caregiving Tips for Keeping Aging Parents at Home

Caring for Elderly Parents

November 04, 2021
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Taking care of your aging parents while they age at home is a large task and a new responsibility for most people. If you are used to your parents being independent and being able to do things themselves, having to a sudden shift in duties can be a shock. Providing care to your aging parents at home can strengthen your bond and build a stronger relationship. You may discover their likes or dislikes that you never knew existed. Likewise, your parents may be receptive to your help and treat you with a new level of respect.

Be mindful that both you and your parents are going through a lifestyle change. They may feel hesitant at first or feel uneasy with the idea of outside care. If you are not sure where to start, keep reading for caregiving tips. 

Develop a Consistent Daily Routine 

It may seem obvious to create a consistent daily routine for your aging parents to follow at home, but many people do not stick to one. Our busy daily lives can seep into precious time and affect time spent with parents. Having a regular routine to follow can ease any anxieties your parents have and relieve the stress on you to plan everything. Talk through the routine and make changes according to your lifestyles.

There are endless benefits to sticking to a daily routine for older adults:

  • Your parents have something to look forward to when they wake up
  • Keeping your parents motivated to get out of bed and start the day is crucial to maintaining a healthy mindset and good mental health
  • Make sure to can daily exercise or at least 30 minutes of physical activity in their routine
  • Older adults who participate in daily physical activity are more likely to stay agile and fit throughout their older years
  • Sometimes, a lack of structured schedule creates a sense of hopelessness
  • By following a daily schedule, your parents will feel productive and have a sense of purpose
  • You know where your parents are and what they are doing for the majority of the day
  • This peace of mind can reduce your concerns about how they are spending their days

How Much Care Do Your Parents Need? 

It takes time to finalize a schedule and adjust to the new needs of your parents. They may be reluctant to having you help or too proud to admit their problems. Watch them move around the house and see if you detect any subtle changes. Perhaps they have a new limp or have trouble reading the back of a cereal box. Check your tone when bringing up these sensitive topics, and be mindful of how your parents might react.

Here are some things to consider for in-home caregiving:

  • Discuss and make sure that both you and your parents are on the same page for expectations and responsibilities
  • What you think they need, what they think they need, and what they actually need are sometimes different things
  • Map out exact daily tasks, weekly errands, and monthly achievements
  • Set your budget and see hat subsidy options are available if your area

 

Make Your Home Accessible to Elderly Parents

Added mobility and safety features to your home will help your elderly parents maneuver around the house on their own. These may be small temporary or permanent changes and do not have to be expensive. Shop around of browse your local hardware stores for gadgets that work in your home. Keep in mind that the height of the object is a major factor when buying. 

Household Items That Can Be Easily Modified

  • Installing safety grab bars in the bathroom
  • Changing door knobs to door handles, to adjust for loss of wrist movement
  • Moving dish-ware on high shelves to lower shelves, to prevent straining the back
  • Adding traction mats to the shower
  • Look for gadgets with easily adjustable heights if more than one person is using the contraption, to avoid having to buy 2 separate ones

 

Provide Easy-Ready Meals

Everyone knows how disappointing you feel when you are hungry and there is nothing prepared in the fridge. Imagine how amplified this feeling is when you cannot prepare a hot meal for yourself, or it takes longer than it used to to cook. This is a new struggle that your elderly parents may be experiencing.

Your elderly parents may not have access to a car or public transportation to go on a quick grocery run. They may have anxiety when ordering delivery or have mobility issues and can’t pick-up take-out orders. Having easy-ready meals at home will ease the burden on both you and your parents.

Tips for Organizing Prepared Meals for Older Adults

  • Make easy-ready meals that are nourishing and meet the health needs of your parent
  • Write out and label all meals with heating instructions
  • Hire temporary help, such as a meal-prep chef to create meals for you and your family
  • Organize the fridge and freezer well to optimize shelf space
  • Many grocery stores offer a grocery delivery service within a certain radius
  • Stock the fridge and pantry with snacks you know they like and will reach for

 

Outline Your Responsibilities as a Caregiver

From this, you can set realistic goals for caregiving and know exactly what you need to do to provide good care. This way, it is easier for your parents to feel fulfilled at home. Know what your parents need and how you can help them accomplish this at home. Keeping your aging parents at home may feel overwhelming at times.

 

Why Assigning Care-Taking Duties is Important

By outlining your responsibilities, both you and your parents have a clear picture of what you are able and unable to do. This will prevent the number and frequency of arguments or disagreements in the future. Arguments arise when your parents feel that their needs are not met at home. Like in every relationship and job, you need a clear idea of duties and expectations. Your new role as a caregiver is not different and requires just as much attention.

How to Spot Signs of Burnout

Everyone is different and handles situations differently. You might handle stress really well and have developed healthy coping methods. Or, you may be someone who feels that stress largely affects the state of your mental health. Whether you classify yourself as someone in between or on either ends, no one is immune to feeling burnt out. 

Here are the key factors you might notice in yourself that could be signs of burnout:

  • Change in mood from positive to easily irritable, snappy, or aggressive
  • Feeling constantly tired or exhausted, even after a full night's sleep
  • Prolonged stress and constant worrying about things that could go wrong
    Having more anxious thoughts than usual 
  • Feeling helpless or losing sense of hope
  • Loss of appetite or change in regular eating patterns

Avoid Burnout From Caregiving

It is a heavy task to take on caregiving for your aging parents at home, but it can also be rewarding. Burning out is a real concern for new caregivers. Balancing your free time and the constant stress is not easy to do. Remember to try your best and that you need adequate rest to take care of others properly. 

To avoid burning out from the stress of caregiving, follow these tips:

  • Delegate responsibilities between you and your siblings

    It is ideal if they are within driving distance or can visit multiple times a year. If not, explore financial responsibilities you can all share. Even frequent video chats or calls can help ease the burden on you. Constant connection with loved ones can help your parent feel less lonely while aging at home. 
  • Seek outside temporary help

    Your parents may be hesitant or reluctant to rely on people outside the family. Remind them that these professionals are only looking out for what is best for them. When in doubt, revisit the conversation if they continue pressing these concerns. Sites like Caremada require all members to be screened before applying for work offers. 
  • Take time for yourself

    Make sure to give yourself a break when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. This could mean going to the spa, reading a book, or enjoying a glass of wine at the end of the night. Do whatever helps you relieve stress. During this time, let go of your worries and focus only on yourself.
  • Recognize that at-home caregiving is a stressful situation

    You are doing your best. Give yourself credit. Comparing your situation to that of others does not help. Reach out to the other family members or visit your local seniors' community centre for resources and support.

Remember to Take Care of Yourself 

To avoid burning out from caregiving for your elderly parents, you need to remember to take good care of yourself. 

Here are some things to focus on and what you can do to improve:

Exercise

Daily exercise is key to maintaining good physical health and also contributes to better mental health. Aim for at least 40 minutes of physical activity 5 times a week. Exercises can help relieve stress, tension, and anxious thoughts. Regular exercise can improve your mood. You can go on a walk outdoors or pencil in an hour to go to the gym. There are many apps and online videos that allow you to workout from the comfort of your own home, if you are short on time. 

Sleep

Getting the proper amount of sleep every night is essential for your health. Experts recommend that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation can lead to loss of focus, weight gain, being more easily irritated, having. trouble with memory, a weak immune system, and high blood pressure. Use relaxation techniques, like counting down from 10 or a guided meditation, to help you achieve a good night's sleep.

Diet

Caring for your elderly parent is a full-time, around the clock job. Make sure you are eating at least 3 meals a day, including breakfast. Start day off right by eating a breakfast with some protein. It will keep you fuller for longer, and give you the energy to power through. Pack snacks to have between meals, and stay hydrated. It is a good idea to have ready-to-heat meals in the fridge or quick recipes you can whip up when you are low on time. 

Free Time

Free time is hard to find. Do not lose sigh of your hobbies, as they are the source of personal joy. Even if you can sneak in 30 minutes before bed to read a few pages of your book, it is better than nothing. 

Be Grateful

Being able to take care of your aging parents at home is a blessing. Not everyone has the time, home, or resources available to look after their elderly parents. Make the memories while you can. One day, your elderly parents will no longer be by your side. As much of a burden it may feel like at times, enjoy the times spent with them.

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