Care for elderly in home takes a lot of planning. Whatever way it happens, it may involve big changes in life style, and it's best to plan for in advance, if possible.
Care may take place in their own home (perhaps with home healthcare services too), or your elderly loved one may be moving in with someone else (perhaps you). Which was my case. I found that I indeed did need some home services later on.
You cannot do this alone.
It is important to stress right here. Even if you are doing it alone. That was a big mistake I started to make at first. And there are many ways to find support (see below).
The state’s trend in Minnesota, is to encourage care for elderly in home, including with family, for as long as possible. The reasons?
Cost is the first. It is less expensive and therefore seniors do not go through their assets as rapidly, at which point the state would subsidize care. Another is health and well-being. The state is very aware that senior health is much better when living with loved ones, largely due to better nutrition, social interaction, personal supervision, and mental stimulation.
Every situation with care for elderly in home is unique and different. But I learned there are common tips to consider.
First, educate yourself as to the fundamentals of caregiving, and of
typical caregiver duties.
Some of the preparations must be
done before a loved one moves in with you. Or, if they are
remaining at home, take action right away. With ta good approach, it's very possible to care for elderly in home for a long time.
My story - and what I needed to do
...to move my father in with me, from assisted living, and why. He felt that at this time of his life, the most important thing to him was to live with family for as long as possible. Dad has serious vision and hearing loss but is otherwise in very good health. But no matter what the circumstances, care for elderly in home involves many of the same considerations.
As we mentioned in our page on Elderly Help – Making A Plan, there are several categories to consider for your particular situation:
When my father and I decided he would move in with me from assisted living, there were several factors I needed to consider. He was in great need of social interaction and activities, and help with daily tasks. Because of his deaf-blind condition, he became somewhat lonely and isolated, although surrounded by lots of people in assisted living. He could only socialize or participate on a limited basis.
I knew that it was of utmost importance to make sure Dad had plenty of social interaction and positive attitude to maintain good memory and mood. This is one of the advantages of care for elderly in home.
Dad was already in very good health, exercised a lot, and had excellent nutrition. (If you’d like elderly nutrition tips, see our page on Elderly Nutrition.) For us, the main issues regarding care for elderly in home were safety, and social and mental stimulation.
Nevertheless, I knew I had to
be prepared that anything could change in any area at any time. I had
to have a game plan in place. There are many specifics to plan for with
care for elderly in home. Some of the
situations we had to think through are below.
Emergency and Directions
Care for elderly in home requires detailed information that all involved have access to.
On the fridge, post a sheet of paper with all of the
necessary medical information, doctors, hospital, important phone
numbers and addresses, who has power of attorney, who are the primary
contacts, etc. Also include detailed prescription and medication
information and schedule. This was a valuable idea we learned that was mandated at Dad's former assisted living.
The information is for anyone who may need to help in an emergency. The information should also be given to all appropriate family members or caregivers who will be involved with your loved one.
Make sure power of attorney has been designated, as well as an executor, plus healthcare directives in place. Also it's ideal to have a letter of instruction, a will, living trust, etc. The appropriate family members or people involved should all be given the same information.
Help and Resources
When you care for elderly in home, you do not need to feel alone. I did lots of research and made a list of various resources in my community to draw on, should something happen. Some of these may also work for you:
This list should include phone numbers, addresses, web site addresses, and contact names. Give this list to all family or others who will be involved.
This is a vast topic. With care for elderly in home, there are a myriad health issues that can come and go, some will be more serious. You must be very knowledgeable about all your loved one's current health issues, treatments, medications, and what the doctor believes could be expected to occur in the future (if known).
Dad and I determined that as things happened, we would call upon home healthcare when necessary, allowing him to stay living with me as long as possible.
In the meantime, I took precautionary steps for “just in case” scenarios. With care for elderly in home, you never know what can come up. One step was purchasing incontinence products in advance, should that situation occur, and special cleaning products.
Talk to your
loved one’s doctor and local pharmacist for guidelines about products,
sanitation, assistance, procedures, and other matters. Play out possible
scenarios in your mind and how you would handle them. What would you
do, at least temporarily, and who would you then go to for help.
This is such an important matter, I have made a separate page all about elderly safety issues. When Dad moved in with me this was very eye-opening. Lots of changes needed to be made for safety. So we discussed planning, crucial communication, what to do when he'd be home alone (which was infrequent and for a very short time), re-vamping areas of the home prone to causing accidents like the bathroom, stairs, bedroom, kitchen, etc.
Activities and Keeping Busy
Care for elderly in home also involves fun!
Plan with your loved one about what activities, hobbies, and projects they enjoy, and which chores they can help with to keep busy. This also allows them to feel a sense of contribution. Also ask them which activities they want you to participate in, and which they like to do by themselves.
One of our favorites is me reading aloud to Dad. Each evening I read from a book, and twice a week I read him the local newspaper. A schedule is very important to the elderly (and caregiver), to add structure, continuity and something to look forward to and count on. Within this schedule can be variety or something new and fun. Most elderly need consistent meal and snack times.
My Dad liked to walk. This was difficult during the winter here, and when living with me he no longer had many long halls to walk down, as in assisted living. So his doctor recommended a very simple treadmill. He also walked through our rooms and halls, and went up and down the stairs to exercise with me. (Get exercise ideas on our exercises for the elderly page).
When you go out, decide which outings they can come along on.
Especially during inclement weather.
We planned for Dad to accompany me to the grocery store, department stores, or large discount stores, so he could do some walking in the aisles with me. If he got tired, we sat him on a bench or in the in-store coffee area for awhile. We went to church every Sunday as much as possible and if we couldn’t, we watched services on TV.
Your circumstances will be yours. But perhaps these tips and experiences about care for elderly in home will trigger more ideas for you. I can’t stress enough how important careful planning is.
Also of utmost importance is to learn to relax, go with the
flow, and accept What Is. You learn to live in the Now, as they say. Especially in their now.
Caregiving involves Care and Giving, two very wonderful words. So relax and enjoy this time with your loved one. You’ll be less stressed. And you will be making very special memories.
And know that you are not alone. There is a wealth of resources
available to help with care for elderly in home. Find out about them and
get them in place as soon as you can. This will help with your peace of
mind, and allow you to also take care of yourself.
Are you looking for lots of ideas for activities and games? Well we have a couple of excellent Kindle books for you! (And you don't even need a Kindle device -- you can just download them to your computer).
"201 Fun Senior Activities" -- If you need a comprehensive book with loads of activities, then this is the perfect Kindle book for you! (Kindle books can also be easily be read on your PC without an actual Kindle device.) This book contains lots of new ideas,
as well as neatly organized activities from our web site -- so you
don't have to search all over. It's sectioned into handy categories,
such as General Activities, Activities for Men, Fun Food Activities,
Holiday Activities, Outdoor Activities, Dementia Activities, and much
more! Just go to our Kindle page at:
201 Fun! Senior Activities
"71 Fun Games for Seniors" -- Want some great game ideas? Whether for the whole family, games to do alone, or ideas for activity directors, this Kindle book has load of games! Something for everyone and for just about every occasion. It contains lots of new games, plus many of those mentioned on our web site -- all nicely organized so you don't have to hunt all over. We have Holiday Games, Party Games, Mind Games, Dementia Games, Outdoor Games, and much more. It is thorough! (And you can read a Kindle book on your PC with a free download, without a Kindle device). So check it out on our Kindle page at:
71 Fun Games for Seniors!
"Fun Party Themes For Seniors" -- This is a really comprehensive book for full party planning, including easy and delicious family recipes right from my Dad's recipe box -- he loved to entertain! Even decorating (and some crafts) to follow the party themes. If you don't have the time or desire to plan everything out, this book will do it. Or if you want a few new ideas, get them here. Take a look on this Kindle page:
Fun Party Themes For Seniors!
Be sure to also read:
Elderly Health Care - Issues and Solutions -- Get more tips and insights about various health issues that our elderly face (and that you may too, as a caregiver).