What most adults do not usually think about as they go about their daily lives is that, unless their parents pass away when they are younger, the adult child will more than likely become involved in their care as they age. Caring for aging parents isn’t normally on anyone’s mind when they and their parents are enjoying their years as adults. It certainly wasn’t on ours.
Unfortunately, life passes much too swiftly and the day comes when the younger adult realizes their parents are no long as self-sufficient as they were at one time. Sooner or later, the adult children find themselves as a caregiver for their elderly parents. Where in the world did time go?
For many, the time when you suddenly become a caregiver is just that – sudden. It happens often after the death of a parent and the widowed parent suddenly needs your help.
It might be strange to look at it this way, but the more you can ease into care giving, the more time you and those around you have to get used to it. And if you can step in and make a few minor changes to the environment of your aging parent, you may be able to delay the time when they become totally dependent on you.
If your parent or parents are still living in their own home, here are a few steps you can take to make their living space more accessible and safe.
- Create a lifestyle that is all on one level, if possible. Stairs can become a hazard for an elderly person. So early in your plans to adapt their living space, move them into a ground floor bedroom and put all significant rooms, including the kitchen, laundry room and living room on the same level.
- Take some of the work out of daily chores. Most local grocery stores will deliver food to the elderly. You can also find house cleaning services that work by the hour. Home repairs can also be done by someone local for an hourly fee.
- You can make arrangements with home health care professionals to drop by for an hour or two a week just to make sure your parents medications are still safe to use, that all prescriptions have been filled and that your parent understands his or her medications, as well as when and how to take them.
- Reorganize the kitchen so the items your parent will use every day are on eye level and are easy to get to and to put away after washing. Make sure the toaster oven, microwave and other important appliances are also easy to reach and that your parent is comfortable with how to use these items.
- Walk through the house to make sure it is safe for your parent to use. You can place walking and grab bars along the halls and in the bathtub and any other place your mom or dad might need additional support. You can check the lighting for the best visibility possible for their tasks.
Caring for aging parents is always a challenge. By ensuring your parent’s home is safe for them, you can help delay the time when your mom or dad may have to move to a retirement village or nursing home. And you help them stay independent as long as possible while allowing yourself to slowly ease into care giving.