They say it takes a village to raise a child, but caring for aging parents can often be an incredibly lonely experience. And until your friends experience it for themselves, they’ll have no idea how stressful it is acting as an adult caregiver, especially to your own aging parents. If you’re suffering from stress and anxiety helping an older loved one take care of themselves, then no matter how much it might feel that way, you aren’t alone. About 88% of adult children worry about their parents growing older, and three-in-ten say their parents require some form of elder care or assistance.
While adult children worry about their parents’ ability to take care of themselves, an overwhelming majority of seniors worry about leaving their home for a retirement home. About 90% of U.S. seniors want to continue living at home as they grow old, sometimes called “aging in place.” And while many seniors can continue living safely at home, others cannot. And because of Americans’ independent, bootstrap ethos, many people refuse to accept help, or even ask for it in the first place.
If you’re looking for tips to help aging parents age in place, here are some things you can do to make life easier on both you and your loved ones:
1. Universal Design
Because of longer life spans and aging baby boomers, demographers estimate that the population of Americans over 65 will double in the next 25 years. That’s why “Universal Design” is the latest trend in home design and architecture. Universal design is the practice of building or remodeling a home to make it more accessible. Popular features include wheelchair accessible showers, wider doors, open floor plans, ramps, and more. And since one in three U.S. citizens over the age of 65 will slip and fall this year, universal design can make aging in place both more comfortable and more safe.
2. Elder Care, Home Care, And Companionship
In addition to medical in-home care tailored to specific medical needs, there are non-medical options for elder care. Home care services provide companionship and caregiver services, like bathing, dressing, cooking, shopping, and entertainment assistance. Home care and senior care services can make sure medication is taken on time and prescriptions are refilled.
3. Community Resources
As the American population ages, there are more resources than ever for both older Americans and adult caregivers. Find out what kind of nonprofits and organizations exist in your community. You might be surprised by how many helpful resources are available to you and your loved ones. Plus, many cities have support groups for adult caregivers who need emotional support.
Finally, never make assumptions about a loved one’s quality of life. Home conditions can change rapidly, especially after a change in health or the passing of a spouse. Choose a time to check in with your relative regularly, and reassess your elder care plan once or twice a year. And if you can’t find the time to check on your relative, and you can’t find anyone else to help either, then aging at home might not be the best option. However, with the help of local resources and elder care services, aging in place can drastically improve your loved one’s quality of life.