Each year, millions of Americans find themselves caring for their elderly parents or aging family members at home for the first time.
**Currently, there are more than 34 million family caregivers in the U.S.
If you are one of them, clearly, you are not alone.
While the initial prospect of caring for a parent or other aging relative (or friend) can be daunting, you can take some steps to make the caregiving easier, both for you and your care receiver.
We know that this can be a rocky adjustment period so we gathered our geriatric experts and asked...
What is your best tip for caring for elderly parents at home?
here's what they had to say...
"Use the resources"
Tiffany mentions using the resources in your area. Senior centers, support groups, associations and churches all have a lot of free resources that aren’t always utilized. Understand who can help, what they can do, and what costs money versus what does not.
Tiffany Rubin, R.N.
With over 12 years in the medical field, pursuing her passion of caring for people in four different states and six different areas of care. She currently is the Director of Happiness and CEO at Nurse Next Door Delaware, which specializes in keeping people happy at home and giving them the option to age in place.
"Make sure the house is safe to prevent falls"
Bunni mentions making sure the house is safe to prevent falls. This means to move throw rugs out of the way, in case they trip on them. Install safety rails in the shower, and rubber mats in the tub. Make sure object are off the floor, and lights are bright enough, especially at night.
Bunni Dybnis, MA, MFT, CMC
Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist Certified Care Manager and trained mediator with over twenty-five years’ experience in providing services for older and dependent adults. As Director of Professional Services at LivHOME, Bunni combines her leadership, program development, and professional skills to staff, families and the professionals on complex issues involving aging, caregiving, disability and long-term care.
Candy mentions being patient is a key to caring for elderly parents at home. Being patient with the elderly can be difficult, especially in a rushed society. Remember your elderly loved one has limited physical and mental capabilities. Take the time to listen to them, their stories, and especially their wishes.
Senior Placement and Home Health Advisor
Owner of Yaffa Senior Services
Candy guides seniors and their families through the maze of senior living and home care options and provides free services for her clients (accepting commission from the facilities or home health companies pay her a commission when she places a client). She assists with attention to detail and budgets for in-home caregivers that accept Long Term Care Insurance, Long Term Care Medicaid, Medicare, Workman's Comp, LOP for PI cases, Private Pay and stays with her clients throughout.
"Make sure your loved one has a Durable Power of Attorney for finances and health care."
Sharon mentions that the wishes of the elderly parent need to be addressed and dealt with. They should also have clearly stated Advance Healthcare Directives, which express their wishes in the event they cannot speak for themselves. These documents are generally prepared by an attorney or the legal aid society in your community. If these are not prepared while your loved one is mentally competent, there could be serious ramifications. Check with your local Aging and Disability Resource Center to find the legal resources nearest you.
Owner of AgeWise Solutions
Has more than 20 years of experience in older adult services, program and policy development, and aging services administration at the local and regional level. She holds a Master's Certification in Geriatric Care Management from the University of Florida in Gainesville and completed her undergraduate work at the College of New Jersey. Devoted member of the American Society on Aging and the Aging Life Care Association, an organization that is nationally recognized for professional standards and ethics in care management for older adults.
"Check to make sure there is adequate and proper food in the home. Provide fresh water in a spill proof cup and keep it close by the patient to prevent dehydration."
Lynne wants to make sure the elder parents nutrition need are cared for. The elderly sometimes do not eat, unless food is accessible and prepped for them. Dehydration can lead to many medical problems, therefore hydration is also important.
Has over 30 years of nursing experience, Associates Degree in business, an Associates degree in Nursing and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration. The majority of her experience is in critical care, ICU and CCU. Later in her career she worked as an RN Case Manager and for the last five years of her career was a Director of Nursing Services at a Long Term Care, Rehabilitation facility. She gained experience with the geriatric population since most of her residents were in their 80's and 90's. She retired to the beach in Delaware in 2014 and joined Nurse Next Door in 2015.
Caring for elderly parents at home is a challenge that many of us are facing, or will face down the road, so know that you're not alone.
There may come a time when your loved one can no longer reside at home. Plan ahead. Know the facilities in the local region and learn about their services, amenities, and costs. Planning in advance can make a future transition much easier on you and your loved one.