Caring for Aging Parents at Home

Kori LeCompte

As the baby boomer generation ages, the number of people responsible for the care of an aging parent has soared. According to WebMD, 39% of U.S. adults are caring for a loved one with significant health issues. Many feel that children should care for their aging parents at home regardless of circumstances. But, the sacrifices necessary for caring for a loved one at home may lead to feelings of bitterness and resentment on the part of the caregiver.

Before making the decision to care for a parent or loved one at home, it’s important to note what this responsibility will entail and how it may impact your life. You need to consider both your loved one’s emotional, mental and physical wellbeing, as well as your own. This may begin with an assessment of what kind of support is necessary to maintain your parent’s dignity and wellbeing.

To begin with, is your loved one still able to prepare meals, remember to take their medication, clean the home, run errands and manage money? These are known as instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). These activities are necessary for independent living without assistance. At this point, some opt to provide assistance to their loved ones either themselves or with in-home paid services.

Another option for loved ones struggling with IADLs is assisted living. Assisted living offers semi-independent living with programs designed to enrich the lives of seniors. At Camelot of Broussard, for example, we provide meals, medication management services and other services based on individual needs. The facility also offers important socializing activities for residents to enjoy both on and offsite. Social interaction is essential for the emotional and mental wellbeing of seniors and helps keep the mind sharp. In fact, studies have shown that socially active and productive seniors live significantly longer than their counterparts.

Once a parent is unable to perform basic activities of daily living (ADLs), care becomes much more involved. ADLs include vital activities, such as eating, bathing, dressing, mobility (walking without falls) and other activities related to personal hygiene. A loved one who cannot perform ADLs on their own requires support round-the-clock to maintain their comfort and safety.

Caring for an elderly parent struggling with ADLs in the home can prove emotionally and physically draining. Caregiver tasks may include transferring from bed to a chair or wheelchair, bathing, toileting, grooming, feeding and dressing. Caregivers who aren’t trained in performing these activities might be leaving themselves open to personal injury or strain. In addition, caregivers are prone to neglecting their own emotional, physical and spiritual health leading to caregiver burnout.

Costs can be financial as well: caregivers often have to reduce work hours or quit their jobs to properly care for an aging loved one battling with ADLs. According to National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 70% of caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual roles. A study by MetLife found that caregivers in the U.S. suffer a cumulative loss of nearly $3 trillion in earnings.

For loved ones struggling with ADLs, a nursing facility might be the safest and most responsible option. In a nursing home, your parent or loved one is supervised 24 hours a day by professionals who are trained to properly care for the elderly. The facilities themselves are also better equipped to maintain safety and wellbeing with features such as handicap accessible ramps and elevators, alarms to notify staff when a resident with dementia leaves the floor and onsite medical services. As a caregiver, you can rest assured knowing that your loved one is receiving the best care. This option may also be best for you as the caregiver by reducing stress and anxiety, enabling you to engage in full-time work and providing the time to maintain relations with friends and family.