Caring for Elderly Parents, No Matter Where They Live
Adult children at some point realize an uncomfortable truth—parents age. But they do more than simply age; aging parents may also need their adult children to help them out more than ever. The prospect of children reversing some roles with parents might seem disorienting and frustrating for everyone involved, but we promise that with understanding, communication, and planning, the whole family can move forward in a way that is safe and comfortable.
Are you an adult child who has found yourself wondering just how to care for an elderly parent? Take a deep breath, and then keep reading. We can walk you through the basics of what caring for elderly parents entails both at home and in a senior living community.
Determining the Right Type of Care
All older adults are unique... and so are their needs.
Part of caring for elderly parents is determining just what their needs are. A good way to determine their needs is to see what activities of daily living, or ADLs, they can complete on their own. The six basic ADLs are as follows:
- Ambulating, or Moving - How well someone can move around independently.
- Feeding - If someone can feed themselves.
- Dressing - How well someone can pick out an appropriate outfit and dress themselves.
- Personal Hygiene - If someone can complete basic hygiene and personal care tasks like showering and grooming.
- Continence - How well someone can control their bowels and bladder.
- Toileting - If someone can get to and use the toilet, as well as clean themselves after using one.
If an older adult can handle all six of the above on their own, then they will likely need minimal—if any—outside help, so long as they aren't experiencing any worrying signs of memory loss or other major health issues. In these cases, the aging adult can comfortably remain at home or enjoy life at an independent living community, which is composed of only older adults.
If someone needs help with a few ADLs, it may be time for either dedicated in-home care or moving to an assisted living community. In-home care can come in many forms, such as regular cleaners or a licensed nurse making wellness checks to monitor blood pressure, administer medications, and the like. An assisted living community will also provide personal care services (and several bonus amenities) to your aging parent, but be available 24/7 instead of only sporadically.
If an aging parent cannot handle any or most ADLs and/or they are experiencing worrying signs of Alzheimer's disease like severe memory loss, then it is likely time for your loved one to move into a dedicated memory care community. There, all of their medical care needs will be met by a dedicated staff of licensed professionals.
Maybe Mom is doing well, but she's just a little forgetful about scheduling doctor's appointments. Perhaps Dad is as sharp as ever, but he has a little trouble moving around as well as he used to. In either case, it's clear that your parent needs just a little extra help on a daily basis. In this situation, your parent can likely safely live in their own home, condo, or apartment after some minimal changes to both their living space and daily routines.
There are plenty of ways you can help care for an elderly parent who wishes to remain at home instead of making the move to a senior living community, including:
- Help Scheduling - Making and keeping track of medical appointments may be a little daunting for some older adults. If possible, you may be able to help Mom or Dad make their appointments and set up automatic reminders on their smartphones to help them keep track of their busy schedule.
- Improve Safety - Keeping the home safer for older adults doesn't have to be complicated. Removing clutter, adding handrails and no-slip mats to bathrooms, installing smoke detectors, and improving visibility throughout the home can all help keep your family members safer.
- Hire Help - Services like Visiting Angels and Meals on Wheels can help lift some of the responsibilities of eldercare off the shoulder of family caregivers.
Continuing Care at a Senior Living Community
Living at home is many people's first choice, but it isn't always the safest. The fact is that roughly 7 in 10 people in the United States will require long-term care services at some point in their lives. This fact means that it pays to know what type of long-term care is right for your family.
Popular senior living lifestyle options include:
- Independent Living - A lifestyle option where older adults can live in a community of other active adults. Personal care services are typically limited to home and lawn maintenance, although they usually offer a wide range of amenities. Our independent living communities offer services and amenities like concierge services, in-house dining, housekeeping and laundry services, club rooms, salons, outdoor walkways, and greenhouses.
- Assisted Living - A lifestyle option for aging adults who need some assistance with ADLs and/or are experiencing early stage dementia. Monarch assisted living communities offer services and amenities like medication management, on-site health care services, al fresco dining, beauty salons and spas, community activity and craft centers, and gardens.
- Memory Care - A lifestyle option for people living with dementia. Our memory care communities offer services and amenities that include resident response wearable technology, fitness centers, secure outdoor walkways, cafés, libraries, and more.
Taking Care of Yourself
Don't forget to take care of yourself, too! Caregiving responsibilities can wear down on you; that doesn't mean you have failed. It simply means you are human with needs of your own.
Taking care of yourself can look different to different people. The following are just a few ways that many family caregivers have found relief:
- Practicing Self-Care - Your mental health and physical well-being are important. Since caregiving is a full-time job, your own health can take a hit while you care for your loved one. In order to avoid caregiver burnout from constantly overworking yourself, make time for yourself each day. Meditating, taking a walk, reading—it doesn't matter what it is. Simply take 15 minutes each day to fully commit to an activity that you enjoy.
- Attending a Caregiver Support Group - Caregiving can be an isolating experience, which is why joining a support group can help you feel less lonely while creating a support network to ease the emotional labor of caregiving. Caregiver support groups you may enjoy include:
- Connecting with Your Local Area Agency on Aging - This free government resource can help you find eldercare services and resources in your area, including geriatric care managers, social workers, and more.
- Respite Care - Sometimes you may just need a break from caregiving duties. In these cases, respite care may be the solution. An assisted living community will look after your loved one for a short time while you get a break from caregiving duties. At Monarch Communities®, our short-term residents are treated with the same respect and care as our long-term residents, so your loved one will return to you with lifted spirits.
Staying Connected with Your Aging Parents at Monarch Communities®
We are not a nursing home. We are a network of memory care, independent living, and assisted living communities serving older adults and their family members across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
No matter the level of care your family needs, we offer a variety of senior care options and help you craft an elder care plan that is perfectly tailored to your loved one's needs. We also offer respite care services so that you can get a well-deserved break from your caregiving responsibilities. We're here for your family, always.
Contact us today to learn more!
Disclaimers - This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the advice of a licensed health care provider.