Aging In Place

8/31/2022 | By Paula Berryann

Paula Berryann published her book, Optimize Life for Your Aging Parents and You, to help people who are dealing with aging – as she was dealing with her aging parents – including baby boomers and their children. This excerpt, “Transition Period,” provides suggestions in caring for parents who are aging in place.

Berryann says of her book,

Dealing with aging parents can be totally different when you factor in the emotional roller coaster, their resistance to change, and an unknown end date. You won’t see the curve balls coming at you until it’s too late. Optimize Life for Your Aging Parents and You helps you think about what is the right answer for your parents and you now. What is the next step? Many of the options can be expensive. I share my experiences and others’ choices along with the emotional, financial, legal, and medical aspects of aging.

The reality is your parents will die. This might not be an easy path as they decline. You will deal with doctors, funerals, death, and grief. It is critical you create a lifeline and support team to help you through the difficult times before their death and after.

As you become the aging parents, implement my suggestions and make life easier for your children and you.

Transition Period

Keep your parents in their current living quarters as long as possible because the cost jumps exponentially when they move to an assisted living and then to a skilled care facility (nursing home).

Your parents are probably living in their own home, but as they age or have more health issues, you need to consider making some modifications to reduce the risks of accidents.

Related: Resources for aging in place


Senior mother and her adult daughter. Photo by Imtmphoto, Dreamstime. “Transition Period” from "Optimize Life for Your Aging Parents and You" provides suggestions in caring for parents who are aging in place.
  • Add grab bars or handrails to ease entering and exiting the tub or shower. The major concern of injury in the home is the bathtub or shower, so reduce this risk. Realize they might not bathe often for fear of falling.
  • Keep your parents walking and mobile as long as possible.
  • Remove throw rugs and other tripping hazards. Your goal is to avoid their breaking hips, which increase the risk of death.
  • Move furniture to open walkways.
  • Buy canes and/or walkers, as needed. Some walkers have seats and brakes. Do not let pride or ego get in their way of using an aid if they need it. Say you want them to avoid broken hips; someone they know will have had a broken hip, so this works. The plastic skis or ends on the walkers wear out, so check them periodically. Some people use tennis balls on the walker feet, but these do not work well on carpeting.
  • Get them Life Alert-type buttons; encourage them to wear them. These systems easily connect through the home phone line. The alerts can be worn around the neck or on the wrist. You will know when it is time to get them one. I got Mom’s when she was about 80 and living alone. The cost is worth the comfort of knowing a parent who falls can get immediate help. Plus, it is much cheaper than assisted living. This provides you some peace of mind.
  • Order Meals on Wheels to be delivered during the week. As long as they are still driving, they can get groceries and cook. Watch their refrigerator for spoiled food or signs they are not buying groceries or not eating well. Watch for loss of weight or muscle tone. I could tell my uncle was losing weight and muscle tone, plus his refrigerator did not have much food when I checked. So I suggested to my cousins that he needed Meals on Wheels. They did not want to get into an argument with him, so I told them I would be the “bad guy.” I ordered Meals on Wheels to start the next Monday. I called my uncle and told him that I started them, and he said, “Okay.” I asked if he wanted me to pay for the first month, and he replied that he could handle the payments. Having Meals on Wheels delivered ensures someone checks on them five days a week, and they eat one nutritious meal per day at a small cost. Just as importantly, it gives them some social contact. You can pay weekly or monthly.
  • Consider if a wheelchair ramp could be added to their house, if needed.

Concerns during the transition period while they are aging in place are:

  • Fire from a stove burner being left on
  • Adequate nutrition with less cooking
  • Medicines on time
  • Showering alone with the risk of falling
  • Blood sugar fluctuations for diabetics
  • Reduced vision from macular degeneration, cataracts, or glaucoma
  • Bills getting paid on time
  • Try to set up automatic draft payments, so bills will be paid regularly.
  • Remove valuables from the home before bringing in help.

Related: The best aging in place products for seniors

During this transition period, consider getting them one or more persons to:

  • Clean the house or apartment.
  • Do yard work.
  • Pick up groceries and medicines if they are not driving.
  • Prepare some or all meals.
  • Shower and dress them.
  • Have them enjoy whatever brings them happiness before they move into an assisted living or a skilled care facility.

Paula Berryann