You love your aging parents dearly, and are glad they’re both still living independently in the home you grew up in. But now that mom and dad are both in their 70s, you’ve noticed that they’re having trouble keeping up their home like they once did. There are dirty clothes and dishes piled up, and unopened mail lying around. Even the yard, once dad’s pride-and-joy, isn’t being kept up. Nothing would make you happier than to see them continue aging in place gracefully right where they are, enjoying one another’s company. But you also want them to be safe and healthy and it’s starting to concern you. You’ve been trying to think of ways to help ensure their aging in place continues, but it’s been hard. To assist your efforts, here are some ideas for keeping your senior parents living comfortably at home.
Identify and Discuss Care Needs
Based upon your observations, identify the daily or weekly living activities they might be having trouble doing. Discuss those with your siblings, along with what they’ve also noticed. Write down a list of tasks that you all can share, and then carefully approach your parents with your ideas. They’ll probably get initially defensive, but explain that you all want to return the love they showed you growing up. Once they think about it, your parents will probably accept their adult children taking on some of their workload. Gradually start assisting them with:
- Transportation – This could be trips to the doctor, grocery or other activities. Use it as a time to catch up and share memories.
- Housework – Offer to clean their house once a week to give them a break.
- Yardwork – Mention that you don’t want dad up on that ladder anymore cleaning out the gutters or trimming tree limbs, and that you’ll find someone to do it instead.
- Meal Preparation – Tell your parents that you and your siblings would like to bring them dinner several nights a week to make sure they’re getting the nutrition they need.
- Managing Their Finances – Many seniors don’t understand online banking and bill pay. Help them set up those services to save time and ensure on-time payments.
As your parents slowly begin to accept you and your siblings assisting around the home, they’ll probably be open to more of the same. Make sure that one caregiver doesn’t shoulder too much of the workload, as that can affect their health and wellbeing and lead to caregiver burnout.
Help Modify Their Home
As we get older it can become harder to use some of our home’s features. For example, stairs and bathrooms can become challenging if one or both of your parents has a medical condition affecting their coordination and/or strength. Offer to help your parents modify their home to make it more senior-friendly and safe. Explain that many people over 65 suffer at-home falls every year, and even share some articles with them about those accidents. Conduct a walk-through in their home while pointing out possible hazards, and suggest some modifications you’d