Tips for Helping Aging Parents Stay Independent

Author: Aaron Nelson

For seniors all over the country, their main desire as they grow older is to stay in their homes for as long as they possibly can. Their independence is incredibly valuable to them, so it’s important to know the signs to look for that may indicate they might need some extra help. All seniors want their own food from their own kitchens, their own furnishings and surroundings, and the things that are familiar around them. Here are some signs to look for if you are concerned about their well-being living alone.

  1. Trouble keeping up the housework. If your older adult is normally very clean and tidy, and you start noticing more dirty dishes in the sink than usual, or laundry piled up, bills that have gone unpaid, etc., it may be time to think about other options.
  2. Medication management. If the senior begins to forget taking medications or takes them improperly, that can be dangerous to their health. Using pillboxes and other items to help them keep track of their medicines may be all that is needed.
  3. Becoming overwhelmed with normally mundane tasks. If you notice that simple tasks and chores become difficult or time-consuming, it may be time to consider other alternatives to get them some assistance.

So, what do you do when assistance is needed?
Firstly, have an honest conversation and talk through the concerns you have. Do this in a setting that is comfortable and non-threatening and choose the time wisely. Having serious conversations when they are having a tough day is not going to get you the desired results. Ask them about certain household tasks and how they normally get them done. Maybe there are simpler ways to accomplish these chores.

If your aging parent is having trouble keeping up with laundry or meals, consider bringing in a service to help manage those things. Perhaps a weekly cleaning service or Meals on Wheels would be a very helpful way to get them the help they need and still keep them in their homes as long as possible.

Make a list of the areas that you notice assistance may be warranted. Write them down so that you can go over it with the aging parent or loved one and help them talk through possible solutions. Most seniors are willing to discuss these things, as long as they are not fearful of having the rug of independence pulled out from under them. For instance, if the yard work cannot be done safely any longer, let other family members pitch in and help. Dividing the work among several people will simplify things tremendously!

Considering Costs
Keep the cost in mind as you consider various assistance options. You might be tempted to try and step in and just get things done yourself, but you need to keep in mind that your time is valuable. Whether you hire out some help or help comes through other family members, be sure to consider the costs and add that to your parent’s budget or your own, as the case may be.

Re-evaluate the needs of your senior loved one periodically, so you can keep a close watch on things. Today, they may only need some help mowing the grass, but in several months, they may need even more help with daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning.

The bottom line here is that it’s important to balance the things your loved one wants versus the things they need. Striking that balance can be challenging, but open and honest communication is the key to success. If your loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s there will obviously be a bigger need for more intense help. Likely, they will need someone living in the home with them if they are not in a nursing home. Caregivers can be a huge asset in these situations, whether it is a family member or hired help.

Please contact us today for more information on helping your aging parents remain independent as long as possible!

Home Helpers of the Fox Cities is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour care and live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Appleton, Oshkosh, Neenah, Grand Chute, Menasha, Little Chute, Greenville, and Kaukauna, Wisconsin.



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