Caring for elderly parents at home

Optimizing your space for older family members


SEPTEMBER 29, 2021

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Did you know that more than 16% of the U.S. population is 65 years of age or older — a number expected to rise to 22% over the next 30 years? The COVID-19 pandemic not only offers a more significant risk to an aging population, but it also has displaced some seniors from assisted living. Maybe you decided to become a caregiver for your mom by moving her from a nursing home into your house. Or perhaps a parent has become widowed and plans to live with you. In any case, here are some considerations when keeping your elderly parent or senior relative safe under your care.

Prepare your family for a new member

Living with an elderly parent can take some getting used to for all parties involved. You may be trading privacy for peace of mind, knowing that your loved one is well-cared for in your home. In turn, your senior relative may be giving up some independence and their own space.

  • Carve out private time. You and your partner need alone time, your kids need one-on-one time without a grandparent around, and your older mother needs a quiet space for herself. Before you begin caring for an elderly parent at home, create a plan of action so each family member has the space to rest and recharge.

  • Establish boundaries. How will the division of labor be handled? If you’re caregiving for a parent with dementia, you may need your partner to step in and take something off your plate, like the dishes, laundry, or supervision of homework. What are you each willing to do in a caregiving situation, and when should you seek help? Setting boundaries at the outset can help manage expectations in the household as your loved one begins to require more care.

  • Communicate with all parties involved. Having grandma and grandpa move into a space in your home is a big adjustment for you, your children, and your pets. Create trust and foster open discussions with all family members.

Check in during the day

There are many different scenarios involved with caregiving. Maybe you’re the primary caregiver for your elderly parents. Perhaps your senior parent is still completely independent and you both enjoy the idea of a multi-generational home. Or maybe your parent needs more hands-on memory care, and you hire outside help. In any of these situations, it’s helpful to have a monitoring system for the elderly in your home.

  • Use a smart speaker. Whether you’re on your phone or other Alexa-enabled speaker, Alexa’s Drop In feature allows you to use a supported device as a two-way intercom for easy communication.

  • Add cameras in and around your home. Home security cameras for the elderly will give you peace of mind even when you’re at work. Check in on a nurse or helper during the day, use your monitoring system throughout the night to make sure your parent is safely in bed, or position cameras around the front door so you can keep tabs on comings and goings.

  • Get a smart lock. A smartcode keypad may not be ideal for a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s, but it’s a great idea for forgetful seniors who lose their keys from time to time. A lock with a keypad also allows you to give out unique codes to home health aides or housekeepers, and it gives you the ability to lock or unlock the door remotely.

  • Install sensors. Both motion and contact sensors installed on all entry points of the home can help keep your senior safe, especially if they’re prone to wandering.

  • Set reminders with a virtual assistant. Need your mom or dad to remember to take pills on time? Creating a calendar with alarms can help keep your loved one on a schedule.

  • Add motion detection lighting. Illuminate dark hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms with motion detection.

  • Install smoke detectors and flood sensors. You probably already have smoke detectors throughout your home; just make sure they’re in good working order. Consider adding flood sensors near sinks, tubs, and toilets in case an absentminded parent leaves the water on.

Choose the right caregiver

Caregiving is a noble profession — and it’s certainly not for everyone. Keep in mind that burnout is real, and if you’re the primary caregiver, you may need respite care from time to time.

  • Be realistic about your elderly parent’s needs. In order to find the right sitter, you’ll need to make sure you assess your senior’s mental and physical abilities to accurately determine the level of assistance they require. You may just require someone to help for three hours a day to perform basic care tasks.

  • Decide whether you’ll go through an agency or seek private care. There are many caregiving options available. Check your insurance to see what’s covered (and what’s not) before you ultimately make a decision.

  • Interview and check a caregiver’s background. Just as you would vet a babysitter for your child, you’ll want to do the same for your parent as their advocate.

  • Perform regular quality checks. Anyone who enters your home should be trustworthy and reliable, especially where your elderly family member is concerned. Let a sitter know you have video monitoring for your elderly relative in your home. Also drop in every now and then unannounced.

  • Look at nontraditional options, too. You may not need a full-time home health aide yet. Other options such as adult daycare exist to help with the burnout that comes from non-stop care.

  • Find support for yourself. Not sure where to start? The Family Caregiver Alliance, National Council on Aging, and the Medicare site offer resources for caregivers of the elderly. Also look for specific organizations and support groups in your area for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer.

Ready to get started making your home more secure while caring for elderly parents at home? Contact Brinks Home™ today.

Allison Clark is a senior writer for Brinks Home. She enjoys educating others on the benefits of smart home security and using technology to simplify everyday life.

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