The vast majority of senior citizens want to live out their days in their own homes—and without being a burden on their kids. Planning ahead greatly raises your odds of making it happen.
1. Consider hiring a pro. A knowledgeable, neutral professional can assist from the start, even when your parents are still living at home. You may think you can handle it yourself, but you can’t—not when you’re so emotionally close to the situation. Having a list of researched and reliable companies before you need them will prove invaluable down the line. So often, we get inquiries at Companions for Seniors from people seeking help for their loved one that need the service to start immediately. Save yourself some stress and find the right people before there are any problems.
2. Keep track with technology. Helping your parents remain in their home may be realistic but typically requires at least a few adjustments to keep them comfortable and safe. Savvy families are deploying products like QuietCare, which relies on strategically placed motion sensors, to keep tabs on their elders. Say your father lives 6 states away, but is relatively healthy enough to live on his own alone. With this tech, you only need to check your iPhone to allay worries, like “Has he gotten out of bed? Is he in the bathroom and never came out?” No cameras or microphones are involved, so there’s assured privacy, and a secure website updates a status report every two hours. QuietCare calls immediately if anything is out of the ordinary. Keep in mind though, this tech is for those that are healthy enough to be on their own. If you’re loved one needs more direct attention, that can’t be found through an app and you should consider an in-home agency like Companions for Seniors.
3. Remove booby traps. Extras that you or a specialist might install include anti-scald devices for showers and faucets that protect older skin, which is quick to sustain serious burns; alternatively, set water heaters to “low” or at 120 degrees. Carbon monoxide detectors are recommended since elderly people are sensitive to even low concentrations of the deadly gas. Special smoke detectors with strobe lighting or a vibrate feature can wake them up when conventional devices wouldn’t—new research suggests the latter are set at frequencies that many elderly people can’t hear. Grab bars in the shower and near the toilet are usually a must, but don’t forget about non-slip mats as well.
4. Visit frequently. The time together matters, plus you’ll have a better sense of whether they’re safe, mentally sound, and in the best living situation. Keep an eye out for subtle changes: Are the plants watered? Is unopened mail piling up? Do they have bruises suggesting they may have fallen? Enlist your family and your parents’ trusted neighbors to check in.
5. Anticipate expenses. To help maintain your parents’ independence and health, you’ll very likely need to pay for a few services. The national average for a home healthcare aide to assist with hygiene and medication, say, is $19 per hour, according to a MetLife Mature Market Institute analysis. Think Medicare will pay? Not if they need the aide for a chronic condition. Adult day care averages $61 per day, according to MetLife.
Now if you have done all of the above and have reached the point where you feel your aging loved one can’t be home alone or accomplish the errands they need to safely, then it’s time to consider a more long term solution. Regular in-home care from a professional agency can insure that your loved one gets to age in their own home and still receive the care they need to thrive.
Some companies like Companions for Seniors have an adjustable scale pricing for services. The more hours you book, the lower the cost per hour of care.
Discussions with Your Loved One
Talking about in-home care can be a tough subject. Approach the topic with patience and understanding, and keep these tips in mind along the way:
- Emphasize the positive. Point out the many things they can still do on their own. Talk about their freedom to make choices, and assure them that they will still be in charge.
- Talk about what a caregiver can do for them. Ask them what burdens they might want lifted. Do they worry about forgetting their medication? Would they like to have their meals prepared for them? Making decisions together can open the doors to change.
- Talk to the doctor. Sometimes hearing the encouragement of a physician can help overcome resistance to an in-home caregiver. At the very least, the recommendation can open doors to further discussion.
- Interview caregivers together. Make the decision with your loved one. If they know their opinion is valued, they might feel more in control, and be more accepting of in-home care.
Ease the In-Home Care Transition
By involving your loved one in every step of the decision for in-home care, you are showing them how much their opinion matters. By preparing their home, you are helping to ensure their safety. Both steps can help ease the in-home care transition for everyone.