When you were growing up, your mom and dad were the amazing superheroes who put you on the school bus, let you run and play outdoors, and then made sure there was always dinner on the table at the end of the day. Now, your parents are growing older, and they need some support of their own.
It can be difficult to watch as your parents grow into their senior years. Often, this time is one of many transitions, both large and small. For family caregivers, it can be frustrating, confusing, and even a bit scary to see the people who were always there for you need help and care to manage the activities they once handled with ease.
It can be just as intimidating to handle some of the major choices that come along with being a caregiver — including facing the decision of whether to help your parent age in place in their home, or transition into an assisted living or nursing home facility.
Long-Term Care: The Benefits of Aging In Place
If you find that your parent needs additional help as they get older, you’re certainly not alone.
Studies have shown that a large majority of seniors will require long-term care at some point in their lives. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that up to 70% of those 65 or older can expect to use some form of long-term care, and 20% may need care for more than five years.
There are many different forms of long-term care out there, depending on your loved one’s unique needs, and your preferences as a family caregiver. In many cases, families want to focus on helping an aging parent or guardian remain at home, for as long as possible.
There are countless benefits to aging in place for seniors! Living at home can empower seniors to be more independent over time. Studies have also shown that adults who age in place live more comfortably, and experience better health and quality of life, than those who do not. Aging in the comfort and safety of home is convenient for the senior and their family, and allows older adults to live on their terms, in a setting that is familiar and secure.
In contrast, it can be quite difficult to uproot a senior’s life and move them into an assisted living facility. This type of long-term care can be disruptive and restrictive on seniors, and inconvenient for family caregivers. In most cases, aging in place with the assistance of a senior companion is also significantly easier and far less expensive than paying the many fees associated with institutionalized care.
Just as importantly? According to a prominent study cited by the AARP, roughly 90% of adults over 65 say that they want to remain at home for as long as possible.
What can you do to help your parents age in place comfortably, safely, and independently? Here are a few important ideas to keep in mind as you look for ways to help your elderly loved one stay at home for longer:
1.) Get Everyone on the Same Page
Aging in place can offer some remarkable benefits for seniors, but it’s still a transition that will take strategy and planning, particularly if you’re bringing in a professional senior companion.
One key first step is to coordinate with your parent’s caregiving network to get everyone on the same page — including their friends, other members of your family who are acting as caregivers, doctors, pharmacists, and any senior companions and other care professionals. Make sure that everyone can stay in touch, and try to make it as simple as possible to coordinate and communicate between all of the parties who will play a part in helping care for the senior.
One way to make things easier is to work with your parent, and make sure that all of their important documents and resources are up-to-date and fully accessible. This might include a list of emergency contacts, a medication or exercise schedule, insurance information, as well as recent estate planning documentation and advanced directives.
As you start looking for new ways to help your parent age in place, it’s also going to be important to communicate closely with them. In order to empower your loved one to remain at home, you may need to make some changes to their lifestyle, whether that means updating their home or bringing in a new professional caregiver. Some seniors may be accepting of these changes; others may be more resistant.
Throughout this process, it’s important to keep up an active dialogue with your parents. It may take multiple discussions to get everyone on the same page. Be sure to approach these weighty conversations with empathy, and truly take time to listen to your loved one’s wants and needs. Try to avoid putting too much pressure or judgment on your senior loved ones, and recognize that they might be scared or intimidated, just as you are. One way to help kickstart the senior care conversation may be to frame the discussion around getting your parent some assistance so they can live more independently, rather than limiting their activities.
2.) Look Into Local Resources
When it comes to helping your senior loved one age in place, remember that you don’t have to go at it alone. As you start to think about ways to help your parent remain at home, ask yourself: What services and resources can you use to help make sure your mom or dad are safe, comfortable, and living life to the fullest at home?
There are many businesses and community resources that may be able to help. For instance, food and grocery delivery services can help make sure your loved one always has food in the pantry. Laundry pickup services can help take care of your loved one’s garments, so they don’t need to deal with the dry cleaner or laundromat themselves. Similarly, in many areas, there are medical professionals who make it a point to provide “house calls” for seniors, making it possible to get top-notch medical care in the comfort of home.
Depending on your personal level of comfort, you may also want to look into putting technology to work for your loved one’s care routine. There are many pieces of everyday tech that can help seniors remain safe and secure, and give caregivers greater peace of mind. Some ideas may include equipping your loved one with an emergency or medical alert bracelet, so they can quickly contact emergency services in case of a fall or health incident. There are also automated medicine dispensers, to help your parents manage medication. Around the house, smart home technology — such as smart speakers, automated lighting, and programmable HVAC systems — can make it easier for seniors to live comfortably, while keeping their chore list to a minimum.
3.) Bring on a Helping Hand
One of the most effective ways to help a senior parent age in place is to connect them with the services of an experienced senior companion.
Home care — also called in-home care or non-medical home care — is one of the best types of long-term care for seniors who want to age in place. It’s also a great fit for family caregivers who need time back to rest, recharge, or turn their attention to other things.
With home care, a senior companion provides the personalized assistance and care your mom or dad needs, on a flexible schedule that suits their lifestyle — and your own preferences, as a family caregiver.
A senior companion can help with a variety of services designed to help your parent age in place comfortably, safely, and independently, including:
Just as importantly, a senior companion is a friend and confidant, in addition to being a care provider. Studies have shown the importance of staying socially connected over time for seniors. Often, maintaining close relationships can mean that older adults live healthier, happier, and longer lives. A companion is someone you can always trust to be there for the most important people in your life, showing up with a smile, a story, and a genuine passion for helping others. A companion can play games, go on walks, share meals, watch movies, and be there whenever your loved one needs a friendly face or someone to talk to.
Ready to Help Your Senior Parent Age In Place?
When your parent could benefit from the companionship and support of an experienced professional caregiver, Companions for Seniors is here to help!
We’re a home care company locally owned in the Chicago area, with clients in the city and suburbs. At Companions for Seniors, we provide companionship for the elderly in the comfort and security of their own homes. Through our support, care, and friendship, we empower older adults to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community while nurturing meaningful relationships.
Companions for Seniors provides a free in-home assessment of your current situation, and in most cases we can be up and running in just a few days. We understand that every situation is unique, so we provide a personalized care plan that’s modified to meet each client’s specific needs. As a client’s situation changes, so does our plan of care.
From one hour to 24 hours a day, our trained and bonded companions can be there for your loved one, making aging in place easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Have any more questions? Want to get in touch? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Give us a call at 866-910-9020, or reach out with our online contact form, available here.