My elderly parent wants to stay home instead of seeking care through assisted living or a care home, what do I do?

We get this question a lot. First, if they’re planning on staying home instead of moving, are they able to perform all of their basic ADLs? If not, then they may need professional help. Depending upon what your loved one can and cannot do, you should, at the very minimum, look into in-home care.

In-home care is the term used when a caregiver works in a senior’s home on a regular basis. This could mean the caregiver lives with the senior full time or works by the hour and helps with housekeeping, doctor’s appointments, bathing, or similar non-medical ADLs. Unless the caregiver is certified as a nurse, they should not be administering medication.

Caregivers are generally found through professional agencies and when you’re looking for one, make sure the agency is federally accredited. If you do need someone who can give medication, make sure to ask the agency if they have licensed practical nurses. For those who will not be in the home at the same time as the caregiver, be sure to devise a plan to document the completion of the caregiver’s tasks.

If your parent can perform all of their ADLs and does not need assistance, but you are still nervous, we recommend a medical alert for peace of mind. A medical alert can be used any time there is an emergency, day or night. Oftentimes, if a senior falls and they don’t receive immediate help, the injuries lead to a quick health decline. The quicker emergency services arrive, the better. A medical alert can be used in nonmedical emergencies as well as long as the wearer tells dispatch to send police rather than paramedics.

Beyond medical alerts or caregiving, there are nonprofits, which have volunteers that visit older adults at home to help them stay active and independent. This is done by offering transportation, discounted service workers, meals, wellness activities, and housekeeping services. An example of this type of service is called Meals on Wheels. They assist older adults with already cooked meals. They are reachable by phone or online. Depending on where you live, it is best to call your local senior center or Area on Aging for information on how to receive local benefits and services.

Elderly Couple dressed in pink

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