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7 Tips for Caring for Elderly Parents at Home

At CareHop, we believe that our elderly loved ones want to spend their vintage years living independently at home for as long as possible. 

We also understand how much you want to help keep them at home by pitching in when they need extra care. As long as doing so is safe for everyone involved, it’s a wonderful way to give back for all the love and care they’ve given us.

However, caring for an elderly family member’s mental, physical, and emotional needs isn’t easy, and can quickly become one of the most stressful jobs you’ve ever taken on if you’re not properly prepared.

To help get you started and keep you going over the long term, we’ve compiled 7 tips that will help prepare you for elder caregiving, manage the workload, and decrease stress.

  1. Assess how much care is required

Before committing yourself to caring for an older loved one, be sure to understand how much care will be needed. You can start by creating a comprehensive list of daily, weekly, and monthly care tasks to help give you a clear picture of how much supervision will be needed during the day, at night, and over the weekends, as well as at which times of day.

You might be surprised at how much is actually involved in caring for an older adult, but you’ll also be better prepared to handle the responsibilities once you start providing care.

  1. Understand the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

ADLs are essential activities that preserve a person’s dignity and well-being, and ensure that their basic daily living requirements are being met. These activities include:  

  • Self-feeding
  • Dressing
  • Bathing or showering
  • Personal hygiene (e.g., brushing and styling one’s hair, taking care of oral hygiene, or shaving)
  • Functional mobility (e.g., the ability to get in and out of bed or a chair, and moving around to complete tasks)
  • Using the toilet (e.g., getting to the bathroom, getting on and off the toilet, and self-cleaning)

If your loved one has impaired mobility or health issues, they may need assistance from you or another caregiver to perform these ADLs. You can also invest in equipment and accessories that can help them complete these daily tasks independently.

  1. Identify the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

IADLs are activities that are related to independent living, but not necessarily fundamental to a person’s daily living requirements. Examples of IADLs include:

  • Cooking and preparing meals
  • Shopping for food and other necessities
  • Household cleaning and maintenance
  • Managing finances and paying bills
  • Taking prescribed medication
  • Speaking on the phone or through other communication devices
  • Running various errands

As with ADLs, IADLS need to be taken care of consistently either by the elderly person or a caregiver.

  1. Be realistic about how much you can help

Now that you’ve identified what needs to be done to take care of your older relative, you can determine how much time you can devote to their needs without harming your own health. 

An honest assessment about your ability to provide complete care might show you that you can’t do everything on your own, at least over the long term. If you take on too much you could burn out, leaving you unable to care for anyone. 

The worst thing you can do is judge yourself for not being a superhero – and then try to prove yourself wrong. Besides, you’re already a hero just by helping as much as you can. 

A better approach would be to contact family and close friends to see who can pitch in. Be creative and flexible with scheduling those who want to help. If they live locally, come up with a shift routine that works for everyone. Remember, this is a team effort, and the focus should always be on the needs of your elderly loved one.

You might not find the perfect solution at first, but by recruiting help you’re still regularly involved with caregiving, while still having time for your own family, career, social activities, and things you enjoy that alleviate stress

If you need help initiating the conversation with your family, these handy tips can help.

  1. Explore financial benefit programs

Support is available from various government agencies to assist with keeping your elderly relative active, engaged, and healthy. They may also qualify for funding to offset living expenses, or to cover specialized costs such as installing assistive equipment to improve mobility.

Get familiar with which programs your parents or grandparents might be eligible for. You can find the guide for Ontario seniors here.

If you are a caregiver, you may be able to qualify for tax relief by claiming an elderly relative as a dependent or deducting medical expenses not covered by your public health system. Be sure to speak to your accountant about these and other tax advantages associated with being a caregiver.

Also, ensure that your elderly loved ones get help during tax season from groups that provide free tax service to seniors.

  1. Get involved in seniors groups

Socialization is a wonderful way to keep your senior engaged and happy. Fortunately, there are many online resources where you can look for interesting activities they might enjoy with people their own age, which will give you a well-deserved break too. These events can either be online, or in a safe, in-person setting.

Be sure to get to know others at these events as well, as you’ll likely find support, guidance, and advice from people in the local caregiver community. 

  1. Seek out support when you need it

Elder home care is more than a full-time job – it’s a 24-hour commitment. If you feel like you’re becoming overwhelmed, burnt out, or experiencing mental or physical health issues, it’s time to ask for some support so you can look after yourself.  

Support can come from family and close friends who can take some of the workload from you, or from professional in-home eldercare services. Be sure to fill your support team in on your senior’s needs, preferences, and routines so your loved one is well looked after, while you recuperate and come back refreshed and reenergized.

Eldercare services in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Toronto

At CareHop, we specialize in helping families care for their elderly parents and grandparents so they can live as independently as possible. Our services include  

on-demand or live-in elder care and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia care, as well as assistance with homemaking and meal preparation, companionship at home or for outside activities, and help with personal care.

Our entire team of eldercare professionals are committed to delivering quality, compassionate, and respectful care designed to bring joy and sunshine into their lives, while taking all the work and worry away from you and your family. We’re passionate about caring for your loved one, and ensuring that all of their needs are met.If you have any questions about our customized elder care services, please reach out to us anytime.

About the Author

Michael Lu is the founder of CareHop, specializing in providing compassionate support for individuals and families touched by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.