There is a belief that if your parents do not pass away at a young age, you will be fortunate to see them age and get the opportunity to provide them help in their old age. Very soon, as their needs and dependency increases, the occasional help may gradually change to a full fledged role of a caregiver. In some instances, the role of a caregiver comes on suddenly. This happens with the death of one parent and the widowed parent requires help and moral support to cope with the loss. For couples who have been married for decades, the sudden loss of a partner and companion is devastating and is akin to the loss of a limb. This is when your role as a caregiver is brought upon you very suddenly, and you have to look after the elderly parent’s many needs.
It is always easier to move into the role of caregiver gradually, so that all the concerned persons involved, have the time to get used to the idea. Wherever possible, it is advisable to make changes in the living environment of your aged parents, so that they feel safe and comfortable in their living quarters. This may help to delay the time when they become totally dependent on you. Some things that may go a long way to help in this direction are detailed below:
– Create the living quarters on one level. Stairways are a danger to the elderly and it is easier on them to have everything handy at the lower level. You can adapt the plans to include the living room, bedroom, kitchen, pantry and laundry room at the ground level.
– Reduce the daily chores to the minimum possible, so that the elders are not tied up with this activity. Make arrangements for home delivery of groceries and food items. Arrange for a daily cleaning service for house cleaning, and someone to come and handle minor repairs and odd jobs around the house. This will take off the pressures of daily running of the household.
– A weekly visit by a medical professional can also be arranged, to monitor their health, keep an eye on their prescriptions and assist with any other medical requirement.
– It is a good idea to reorganize the kitchen arrangements, so that they are easily accessible to the elderly. For example, the shelves can be placed at eye level to store items of daily use. Appliances like the microwave and toaster should be placed in an easily accessible location.
– Keeping their physical conditions in mind, make the house easy to use for your parents. You can install walking and grab bars along the hall or passageways and in the bathrooms where they may require additional support. Take care to have sufficient lighting in all the areas, so that there is good visibility.
– There can be an arrangement of emergency pull ropes in all rooms so that they can just pull on them to call for help in case of an emergency. These types of mechanisms are used in assisted care units, which may prove quite convenient for your aged parents to call for help in case the need arises.
By making some planned arrangements, one can make the living areas convenient, safe and comfortable for the elderly parents. This may allow them to retain their independence and help to postpone their move to a retirement home or a nursing home and also allow you to gradually ease into the role of a caregiver.