If your family has decided to help your parent live in her home during her golden years, you have also probably agreed to be her main caregiver. Whether you’re doing it alone or if you have a group of family, friends and hired home care services professionals on your team, you should review the following checklists to help ensure that your parent will not only live independently but also live well.
Some key tasks that your parent will have to manage (either with or without help) as she lives independently:
Ability to manage her finances. Bills will still need to be paid and budgets will still need to be maintained. This is an important conversation to have before anything gets forgotten and overdue.
- Ability to maintain food safety and eat well. Find out if your parent is able to manage her own food pantry and create healthy meals for herself. Good nutrition will be paramount to her healthy living.
- Ability to take medications consistently. If your parent is on medications for health reasons, it’ll be important that she is able to take the right dose of each medication at the right time. She’ll also need to be aware of side effects and possible negative drug interactions.
- Ability to take basic care of herself. Your parent should be able to bath, brush her teeth and take care of her hair while she lives independently.
- Ability to manage a healthy social life. Having a good community around your parent will support her emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
The good news is that your parent doesn’t have to be able to perform any of these tasks all by herself. As her caregiver, you can help her remodel part of her home for support. For example, you might find installing some simple grab bars by the shower and toilet will be all she needs to assist her in those duties. Or you might rearrange where she stores items, making sure to put heavier items on lower shelves and providing her with a tool like and extended grabber to grab lighter items off of top shelves.
You can also arrange a team of people around her to help her with self-care chores such as preparing healthy meals or getting enough exercise. Neighbors, family, and hired home care services professionals can all have an active part in providing caregiving for your parent. Play to people’s strengths and passions. If you have an aunt that loves to cook, ask her to provide freezer meals for your parent to simply pop in the oven or microwave. If your nephew would like to earn a little money mowing the lawn, he might be thrilled to take up that chore.
Finally, look to technology to help. There are alarm systems you can install in your parent’s home that will ensure doors get locked and the heat is set at a safe level. Using technology is a great way to stay connected when you can’t be there by using video chats and online social media. Helping your parent get comfortable with these platforms will enrich her life and give you peace of mind that she is safe and happy at home.