How To Help Aging Parents Stay In Their Home AskSAMIE

How To Help Aging Parents Stay In Their Home

In the golden years of life, the comfort of home becomes more than just a living space. It becomes a sanctuary filled with cherished memories and the essence of one's independence. The emotional connection an aging parent has with their home is profound, a testament to years of love, hardship, and triumph. It's no wonder they've told you "The only way I'm leaving out of here is feet first!" They want to remain in the place that they've built for themselves because it holds such intense meaning and purpose - even if it is hard to maintain!


If you're the child who's been tasked by their parent to make sure "I don't have to go into a [nursing] home," this article is for you. We'll dive into how to give them the independence and stability they seek while still creating the safety that you're concerned about.


Here, we'll explore:

  • The intricacies of meeting the evolving needs of senior parents
  • Enhancing home safety
  • Leveraging technology
  • Understanding in-home care options
  • Easing mobility
  • Providing proper nutrition
  • Maintaining social interaction
  • Considerations for financial planning

All aimed at supporting our loved ones in their wish to age gracefully at home.


Meeting the Needs of Aging Parents


Understanding the desires and concerns of our parents as they age requires open and heartfelt communication. There's really no substitute for this. While it could be a very intentional and planned occasion to talk about their wishes, it doesn't have to be. Even short questions dropped into regular conversations when it makes sense can help you gain a ton of insight. This helps you work together as care partners to create a life situation that's desirable instead of being a care giver, which often results in you doing what you think is best for them.


I know it feels like semantics, but the words we use are so important. Care partners emphasize working together on an equal playing field. It brings that sentiment to the forefront every time you say it. But caregiving means I'm providing the care that's needed. You could do it in a partnership style, but the word doesn't encourage you to. I take time to talk this through because the families I've seen be most successful in this transition are the ones with the most collaborative and supportive mindframes. And the words we use are the most powerful way to facilitate a change in mindset.


Home Safety For Your Aging Parents Is Essential


Once you've communicated with each other about fears, concerns, and desires, it's time to put it into action. Start first with creating safety. Conducting a thorough home safety assessment is crucial to preventing falls and accidents. Simple modifications can include installing grab bars in bathrooms, making sure there's adequate lighting, and removing tripping hazards. For professional guidance on making these changes, AskSAMIE provides invaluable support with our SAMIE AI Assistant and virtual visits with an occupational therapist offering tailored advice on creating a safer living space for your aging parents.


For more insights, you can also explore these resource guides:

- Aging in Place: Planning for Successful Aging

- 9 Best Ways to Make Tubs, Showers, Sinks Accessible | Aging in Place Solutions

- The Complete Guide To Bathroom Safety For Seniors

- Innovative Assistive Technology For Seniors in 2024


Using Technology for Safety and Communication


Technological solutions such as:

  • Fall alert systems like Silvertree
  • Home monitoring devices like LARRY
    LARRY on
  • Communication devices like Echo Show

can significantly enhance safety and independence by adding support, but in a less restrictive way. You get the benefit of being connected virtually, with access to their status by video call or an app. But they also get the peace of mind of not being a burden yet operating on their own.


Echo Show on

And don't let the tech scare you. All of these devices, while sophisticated technically, have very simple, user-friendly interfaces so they are easy and intuitive to setup and use for both you and your parent.


What Are Some In-Home Care Options?


Tech can bridge a lot of gaps. But when hands-on care is needed to help with cooking, bathing, or cleaning, you'll need to consider bringing on some help from an in-home care services. If medical services are needed at home, like nursing care or physical therapy, then you'll need home health care. This is covered by medical insurance with a prescription from their physician or nurse practitioner.


If instead, your parents need help cleaning the house, prepping meals or supervision during the day consistently, then you'll need in-home care. This is a private pay service that can be invaluable in getting the help they need to stay in their home. While the out of pocket cost may seem high, if you put it in perspective, it's still more cost-effective to hire in home care for a few hours daily than it is to move into assisted living.


Making Mobility Easier


Stairs are one of the main reasons people end up forced out of their homes. But improvements like stairlifts and wheelchair ramps can make it possible to stay living there safely. The upfront cost definitely feels like a hit, but again, we can put it in to perspective. A straight stairlift averages $3,000 - $4,000. But one month in assisted living is $5000-$7000. Adding a wheelchair ramp is certainly a requirement for someone who is now using a wheelchair. But adding a ramp could also help move someone from risking a fall using a cane to manage their stairs to being safe with getting out into their garden or going to appointments. And when they are safe, you don't feel responsible for being there every time they try to leave the house. Such adaptations allow aging parents to navigate their homes safely and comfortably, preserving their independence and quality of life.


Nutrition and Meal Preparation


Proper nutrition is paramount for the health of aging adults. But it's often the first thing to go when mobility or activity tolerance become limited. If it is too hard to stay standing to cut fresh foods and cook them, then the next step is frozen or processed meals. That adds more sodium and results in less nutrition. This is huge because it exacerbates problems like edema, pain, and blood pressure management. Solutions like meal delivery services, Meals on Wheels, and online grocery shopping can simplify getting access to healthy foods, making sure that dietary needs are met in a way that's accessible.


I'd also encourage you not to underestimate the value and importance of sharing a meal together. Studies show that when compared to eating alone, sharing a meal results in 60% more energy intake and lower rates of depression. So consider eating together as another means of improving health and safety!


How Important Is Social Interaction For Your Parents?


The significance of social interaction in the lives of older adults can't be overstated. Engaging in community activities and maintaining strong connections with others plays a crucial role in promoting mental and emotional health, warding off feelings of loneliness and isolation that are all too common. Access to reliable transportation services is essential, enabling seniors to participate in social outings, attend medical appointments, and perform daily errands independently. This is why we are big advocates for Shepherd's Centers because they provide a wholistic set of services to address these issues. This level of engagement and connection isn't merely a luxury. It's fundamentally linked to improved health outcomes, including reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, depression, and even mortality.


The ripple effects of a vibrant social life extend beyond the individual to benefit the broader community. When seniors are active and engaged, they contribute their valuable life experiences, wisdom, and time to enriching their communities, often volunteering in local organizations, mentoring younger generations, and participating in civic activities. This interaction not only brings joy and fulfillment to their lives but also strengthens community bonds and creates a more inclusive, multigenerational environment. So when you support your parents having ample opportunities for social interaction and access to the necessary resources to stay connected, it impacts our whole society.


Financial Considerations


Planning for long-term in-home care encompasses both immediate practicalities and the broader, long-term aspects of living independently in one's later years. It's an acknowledgment that the journey of aging at home isn't just about adapting the physical environment but also about considering the holistic needs of the individual—financial, medical, and emotional.


Unfortunately, paying for in-home care, assisted living, and even home modifications can be a large burden. The most important thing to do is talk about it now and as best you can - plan for it. There are a lot of resources available, but they're often very specific to certain needs and locations. And they aren't always available with a short turn-around time. So having a conversation about it now, determining the holes in your plan, and then reaching out to learn about the resources that might fill that hole, now, while it may not be as detrimental, will set you all up for success in the long run.


Need Help Planning Care? Just AskSAMIE!


In conclusion, enabling aging parents to stay in their home involves a comprehensive approach that encompasses safety, care, mobility, nutrition, social interaction, and financial planning. The support of family, combined with the resources and guidance provided by professionals like us at AskSAMIE, can make aging in place a workable and fulfilling option. And if you need more help planning this care, just AskSAMIE!

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Brandy Archie, OTD, OTR/L, CLIPP

Dr. Archie received her doctorate in occupational therapy from Creighton University. She is a certified Living in Place Professional with past certifications in low vision therapy, brain injury and driving rehabilitation.  Dr. Archie has over 15 years of experience in home health and elder focused practice settings which led her to start AskSAMIE, a curated marketplace to make aging in place possible for anyone, anywhere! Answer some questions about the problems the person is having and then a personalized cart of adaptive equipment and resources is provided.

She's a wife, mother of 3 and a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan! Connect with her on Linked In or by email anytime.

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