The holiday season is a joyful time of togetherness with family, friends, and neighbors. It’s when we gather around the dinner table, exchange gifts, and create cherished memories.
But sometimes, these festive occasions also reveal something else – the realization that our aging parents may be struggling to live independently in their current home.
If you’ve recently visited your parent during the holidays and noticed signs that they’re not as safe or comfortable as they used to be, it can be a tough situation to navigate. Let’s explore some key things to keep in mind and steps to take when you discover that your aging parent is facing challenges at home.
Tips for when you find that an aging parent is having challenges at home alone
#1. Stay calm and compassionate
First and foremost, take a deep breath. Discovering that your parent is struggling at home can be emotionally overwhelming, but it’s essential to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. Remember that your parent may be feeling vulnerable and reluctant to admit they need help. Be patient and let them know that you’re there to support them, not to take over their life.
#2. Observe and ask questions
During your holiday visit, pay close attention to your parent’s daily routines and living conditions. Look for signs that might indicate they’re facing difficulties, such as unopened mail, spoiled food in the fridge, or a cluttered and unkempt home. Engage in open conversations and gently ask questions about their health, daily activities, and any challenges they might be experiencing. Encourage them to share their concerns with you.
#3. Assess their physical and mental health
A significant part of ensuring your parent’s well-being is assessing their physical and mental health. If you notice physical injuries, unexplained weight loss, or signs of forgetfulness, it may be time to discuss these issues with a healthcare professional. Schedule a doctor’s appointment to address any health concerns and get a better understanding of your parent’s medical condition.
#4. Evaluate their home environment
The safety and comfort of your parent’s home are crucial factors to consider. Walk through their living space and identify potential hazards, such as loose rugs, poor lighting, or slippery floors. Discuss any necessary home modifications or adaptations, such as installing grab bars, ramps, or a personal emergency response system, to improve their safety and mobility.
#5. Explore supportive services
Depending on your parent’s needs and circumstances, it may be beneficial to explore various supportive services. Home healthcare aides, meal delivery services, and transportation assistance can help your parent maintain their independence while ensuring their well-being. Research local resources and agencies that offer these services and discuss them with your parent.
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#6. Collaborate with siblings and family
You don’t have to handle this situation alone. Reach out to your siblings and other family members to share your concerns and develop a plan together. When everyone is on the same page, it becomes easier to provide the necessary support and care for your aging parent.
#7. Respect their wishes
While your primary concern is your parent’s safety and well-being, it’s essential to respect their wishes and autonomy. Listen to their preferences and involve them in decisions about their future. If they express a strong desire to continue living at home, explore options that allow them to do so safely.
#8. Seek professional advice
Navigating the complexities of aging and caregiving can be challenging. Don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance from geriatric care managers, social workers, or eldercare attorneys who specialize in helping families like yours make informed decisions.
#9. Plan for the future
As your parent’s needs may change over time, it’s important to have a long-term plan in place. Discuss topics like advanced care directives, power of attorney, and estate planning to ensure that your parent’s wishes are honored and their affairs are in order.
#10. Maintain open communication
Lastly, maintain open and ongoing communication with your aging parent. Regular check-ins, visits, and conversations can help you gauge their well-being and address any emerging concerns promptly.
Discovering that your aging parent is struggling at home can be a challenging experience, but it’s also an opportunity to strengthen your bond and provide the support and care they need. Remember that you’re not alone in this journey, and there are resources and professionals available to assist you. Together, you can ensure that your parent’s retirement years are filled with safety, comfort, and the love of family.
Looking for a supportive place that will be a good fit for your parent? Contact one of our communities near you. For more information about the assisted living lifestyle that a senior living community can offer, check out our free ebook, Just the Facts: Your Guide to Assisted Living.