Aging In Place

There may come a time when your aging parent can’t take care of themselves at home. Maybe they’ve fallen or suffered another injury, and need help at home while they recuperate. Or maybe they’re recovering from an illness, and just need time to get their strength back.

And these days, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many aging parents are moving out of their senior living facilities temporarily to stay healthy.

Whatever the situation, if you’re considering temporarily moving in to care for a parent (or moving them into your home for a while), here are some things to consider.

Assess the Situation

While your first instinct may be generosity, to offer your help to your parent, first make sure you really know what kind of care your parent needs. Know your own limitations, and make sure you have the time and resources to devote to their care. If you’re working, will you have to take time off? If your parent needs more specialized medical care than you can provide, consider hiring a home health care aide to help.

Prepare the Space

If you’re moving your mom or dad into your home, make sure the house is ready. Assess your home through the eyes of an elderly person. Are there trip hazards like loose rugs, protruding furniture legs, or electrical cords? Do you need to consider installing grab bars or other safety features in your bathroom? If your parent has any mobility issues, safety is essential, even if their stay is only temporary.

Communicate Openly

After years of living independently, it can be strange and uncomfortable to suddenly be living in the same household as your parent again. You’ve upended your daily life to move in as temporary caregiver, but your parent’s routines are also affected. They may feel like their space is being invaded, even though they realize they need the help. They may resent that they’ve lost some independence and autonomy, even if it’s temporary. Discuss habits, schedules, and expectations honestly so no one feels uncomfortable. If you have kids or a spouse at home while you stay with your aging parent, remember that they probably have concerns about the situation, too. Involve all members of the family in these discussions, so no one feels like their voice isn’t heard.  

And, most importantly, be sure to avoid isolation.

Prepare for Your New Role

As a caregiver, you may need to wear many hats. You may be a nurse, cook, errand runner, housecleaner, and more. Be prepared to take on tasks like arranging doctor’s appointments, picking up prescriptions, and managing medications. Your parent may also be frustrated that they can’t do everything they’re used to. Becoming a caregiver, especially a live-in caregiver, can be a lot of work to take on. Make sure to forgive yourself if you don’t feel like the “perfect” child all the time. Remember that even though you’re the one that took on the caregiver role, you can ask for support. Whether it’s asking other family members to take a shift, hiring an aide, or just ordering takeout instead of cooking from scratch occasionally, it’s acceptable to get help.

Arrange for Breaks

When you’re suddenly in the role of in-home caregiver, you may find that it’s stressful being on call 24 hours a day. Make sure to give yourself breaks so you don’t get overwhelmed or burned out. If your aging parent is capable of being on their own for an hour or two, don’t feel guilty about running errands or doing other activities outside of the house on your own. If they can’t be left unsupervised, arrange with family members to come by once in a while so you can take a break.