9 Great Rules for Caring for Your Elderly Parent at Home

volkersystemsMarch 17, 2010

If youre taking on the responsibility of caring for an elderly parent in your home, youÂll want to know the best ways to prepare for their arrival. These nine essential rules will help you get ready for new role:

1. Get informed

Just as you organize and take care of your own financial, health and legal files, itÂs important you have access to the same information belonging to your elderly parent. If possible, try and collect information and actual records of the following (some of which you may need to help access special services and healthcare for your parent):

ï§ Social security number

ï§ Healthcare insurance details. Is your parent receiving Medicare? If so, do you have detailed information regarding the benefits of this service? You will need to copy the back and front of all their health insurance cards and policies.

ï§ Details of other healthcare providers, e.g, dentist, pharmacy, optometrist.

ï§ A list of all the medications your parent is taking, dosage amounts and instructions for taking them. Take this information with you to every medical appointment.

ï§ Copies of past medical records, including date and results of recent medical tests e.g, x-rays, MRIs, CT scans

Do you know if your parent has made any of the following  a will, durable power of attorney for finances, durable power of attorney for healthcare, a living will? Some of these will help you take care of and make decisions for your elderly parent if their health condition deteriorates to a point where they are unable to represent themselves. If not, you might want to arrange to help your parent prepare these legal documents. When necessary, consult a lawyer specializing in elderly law. If some of these documents have already been drawn up, make sure you have access to the records and are aware of their content.

Make sure you are aware of your loved oneÂs financial matters. Do they have bank accounts? Do they receive regular income from social security, pension programs or through other channels? Do they own any assets, property or real estate? How much is their home worth? Do they have any other investments, stocks or IRAs? If possible, talk to your elderly parent about how they might wish you to help manage or arrange their financial matters.

2. Do your research

If your loved one has particular medical conditions, make sure you are well informed about what they are. Talk to their physicians and take the time to obtain reading matter from the library or book stores. Being informed will help you provide the best possible care for your elderly parent and will also make your task easier since you will gain valuable advice. You may even find supporting services that will help you with their care.

3. Call a family meeting

Your elderly parent might be living with you but that doesnÂt always mean the full responsibility of their care should fall on your shoulders. Call a family meeting involving all those who are interested in the care of your parent. Express any desires for additional help you have and how your family members can be involved. Talk about important decisions that have to be made regarding your parent and try to get input that will be useful. Allow everyone to have a chance to express their feelings and wishes.

4. Know your community resources

Gather information about your communityÂs local services. They may include senior centers and adult day centers. Or you might find useful meal delivery and transportation support services, as well as home health agencies. Also, contact your local social services department to discover other services you might benefit from. There is valuable information you can access via the internet including support groups and forums for elderly caregivers. DonÂt be afraid to ask your friends and family for advice too  those who have experience in taking care of an elderly loved-one might have a wealth of information to share with you, too.

5. Look out for these symptoms

Many people believe that incontinence, signs of confusion, depression, or loss of sight, hearing or memory, are symptoms to be expected in the elderly. However, many fail to realize that these are often treatable conditions and could be side effects of prescription drugs. If you notice any of these symptoms in your elderly parent, take them to their physician. Failure to report them could lead to unnecessary functional decline in your loved one.

6. Hire a care manager

This is another resource you might find to be a great help. These professionals are trained to assess your loved-oneÂs particular needs and make recommendations about services which could benefit them. They will help you make the most of community resources and will also hire and manage paid caregivers on your behalf. Visit the website for the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (www.caremanager.org) to help you locate a care manager near you.

7. Consult your elderly parent as much as possible

If your elderly parent is in a healthy state of mind, it is vital that you talk to and consult them about every aspect of their care  after all, much of your responsibility will be to make sure they are comfortable and happy with their environment, daily routine and how they are being cared for. Gain as much input from them as possible about their needs, wishes and preferences. In all aspects, involve them in decision-making as much as possible. This will help them maintain control of their affairs and will make for a better patient - caregiver relationship.

8. Take care of yourself

Despite all your good intentions, if you donÂt take care good care of yourself, you may be of little emotional and practical help to your elderly parent. If you feel you are becoming over-tired and stressed because of your new responsibilities, donÂt be afraid to ask for help and support from other family members and friends, or even community services, who will allow you to take a break when needed. Make time for yourself  to relax and for your own interests so that you donÂt feel like your entire life has been taken over by your role as a caregiver. In addition, make sure you donÂt neglect your own meals and healthcare as you look after these needs for your elderly parent.

Acknowledge any feelings you have related to your parentÂs need for care  sadness, frustration, anxiousness about their future. Write your feelings down in a journal or enlist a listening ear if it helps. Bottling up emotions instead of confronting them can cause additional emotional stress. Take good care of yourself and your role as a caregiver will stay manageable.

9. Purchase or hire good equipment

There are lots of tools and devices available for purchase today that can make life for your elderly loved-one (and you!) easier and more comfortable. Consider if both you and your parent might benefit from equipment such as wheelchairs and wheelchair ramps, eating or dressing aids, walkers or rollators, bathroom and toileting aids, physical therapy accessories and incontinence aids. Since the elderly are more susceptible to bed sores, consider investing in a pressure mattress or alternating pressure mattress that will help prevent these uncomfortable and serious wounds. Research the variety of elderly-aids on offer to help you give your precious loved-one the best care possible.

Rachel Clarkson

Rachel Clarkson is a bed sores specialist and a big fan and promoter of "The Volkner Turning Mattress": http://www.Volkner.com

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Very good advice, and certainly needed before agreeing to care for anyone elderly, I agree.

If you live in a metropolitan area, don't forget to check the yellow pages under 'health aids' or 'medical aids' for stores that sell a wide variety of medical assistance equipment. Sometimes Long Term Care insurance policies may cover some of the costs for such needs.

If you live in a rural area, there are many good mail-order catalog sources. Gold Violin, Easy Comforts, Feel Good Store, Dr Leonards, and First Street OnLine are some that I have used which carry a wide variety of helpful items.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 9:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Number 8 is the MOST important rule... Every FUTURE caregiver should memorize those two paragraphs and truly believe every single word BEFORE accepting the task..

Once you take on the role of caregiver you tend to forget all about yourself... In the beginning you feel as though you have to be the one to protect and care for your loved one... 'Why should I turn him/her over to strangers, exposing her/him to embarrassing situations... If I did that s/he would think I didn't care... After all didn't he/she take care of me all those years, didn't he/she support me, feed me, clean up after me, fix things for me, do things for me while I was growing up, put up with me all the years we were married... I can handle this... No sense embarrassing him/her by asking his/her brothers or sisters or asking the kids to help out... I can only imagine how ashamed I'd be if they had to baby-sit me...'

That's only some of the B*** S*** that goes through your mind, some of the crazy ways you rationalize your own self imposed incarnation... Giving up your entire life... You turn your back on your friends, he/she needs me more... The only time you can get on the computer is when s/he is sleeping because he/she needs visual contact to feel safe and you end up with 3 or 4 hours of sleep, if you're lucky... You have to take him/her with you every where you go, the last time you left him/her alone to give the next door neighbor her mail he 'got hungry' and put an egg in the frying pan, turned on the burner and went upstairs for a nap... You tend to let your personal needs go because it takes more and more time to make sure s/he has clean underwear on... It takes two or three hours to bathe him/her and you're too tired to take a shower... And it goes on and on... Before you know it you're a crying, bitter, angry robot catering to their every need...


    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 3:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wonderful advice and I wish I had read this BEFORE I took this job on. Ritaotay, you must be living my life and I soooo wish I had set some ground rules with the other family members about getting some help. At this point, they have just sort of dropped off the face of the earth and only call when they need something.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 4:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

FallDownGoBump... I hear ya... Loud and clear... Sounds as if we're both in the same boat... Hubby has 3 sisters and 2 brothers left and not one of them even bothered to send a card or call on his birthday, let alone any other time.

Even if I did ask for help not one of them would... But the real kicker is that hubby has helped EVERYONE in his family and everyone has screwed him in some way... Six of his nine siblings and his father has lived with us at one time or another... When we first married we took in his father and youngest sister with the stipulation that 4 of the other brothers and sisters chip in a lousy $7. a week... The first week we got $21. the next week we got $14. then not another cent or even a crust of bread... I could go on for hours about them but I won't... It only upsets me more...

My story:

Three years ago hubby broke his hip and two days after the surgery they sent him home with me with no additional help... Three days after that something happened and he didn't know who he was, where he was or who I was... After a two week stay in the hospital, so they could perform every test known to man, they told me he had 2 strokes and a little stiff from the partial hip replacement but otherwise he was in good health and they sent him to a rehab facility ( nursing home )... BTW, while he was there, recovering, his youngest sister got it in her head that since the nursing home offered hospice services that was all they did and turned around and told hubby that's why he was there!

Sorry for getting off on another rant... Anyway, after two months the rehab facility sent him home... For about a month and a half the visiting nurse and a physical therapist came over twice a week... By then I had to find a doctor because hubby's meds were running out.

After reviewing all his medical records the doctor says hubby had SEVERAL strokes and a heart attack!!!!

Ok, sorry, that's yet another rant...

Right now I have a 67 year old hubby who moves as if he's 100 and, at times, has the brain of a 2 year old...


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 1:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I'm so sorry to hear about your travails with your husband's care. I remember fondly our discussions a while back on the Cooking Forum about low salt cooking. You've certainly got your hands full now. My heart goes out to you.

Take care,

Sue (aka Shambo)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 3:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you Sue, your concern means a lot to me...

Sometimes things get to be a bit much and it just spews out...

As for his low salt diet... I had to give up on it... Every time I got his sodium intake under 2000 mg his blood pressure would drop to the high 80's low 90's...

He had a doctors appointment last week and when the nurse took his blood pressure it was 87/60 and this was after eating out for 4 days in a row...

After the doctor finished his exam, ( I'm not allowed to speak until he's through ), I mentioned, yet again, that I thought hubby's blood pressure meds should be lowered... I got the standard "That shows that the meds are working"... Long story short... When the doctor took his Blood pressure again it was up to 127/60... ( white coat syndrome )... Naturally the doctor said hubby must remain on the current dosage...

So how have you been doing... Got your situation under control?


    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 3:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Rita, I really understand your frustration with the whole blood pressure & meds thing. My husband takes quite a few medications to control high blood pressure and rapid & erratic heartbeat. About 20-30 minutes after he's taken them, he loses all energy and has to lie down for nap. He thinks that the medications drop his blood pressure too low, similar to what you described. He's a big guy, about 6'4". But the doctors are working with the revised norms and they don't seem to take individual differences into consideration. They keep wanting him to have even lower blood pressure even though it means he can't function. So we work all our activities around his medication schedule.

But I'm still doing the low sodium cooking thing. His congestive heart failure means that overly salty foods result in fluid buildup in his lungs along with edema or swelling of ankles, feet & hands. So I'm still pretty careful with the low sodium diet.

Thanks for remembering me and asking. I wish you well.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 5:01AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Mom fell 3 times in 2 weeks
My 90 y.o. mother lives in the independent side of...
Lack of Social Graces
My Mother with middle stages Dementia has developed...
Nutritious Meals for 86 year old
Greetings--DH and I just moved DH mom in with us as...
After 40 Years
40 years have passed, average age 81, and she is in...
Medicare & Lidocaine Patches
My 90 y.o. mom has been using Lidocaine patches for...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™