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how to help my aging parents at home

Our relationship with our parents is among the most important of our entire lives – if not the most longstanding and important one of all. Our parents bring us into the world, care for us, and then love us (or at least their grandkids!) for the rest of their lives. As we (and they) get older, the pattern begins to reverse, and depending on the circumstances, we may eventually care for them, or at least assist them in making key decisions as they retire and age into their golden years.

For many people, this represents a time of great internal conflict. We see our parents – who for our formative years were the ultimate role models – experiencing more limited mobility or cognitive functions, and our instincts are of course to help in every possible way. But for most parents, it is hard to admit needing that help from their child. There can be immense resistance to the idea, dismissal of valid feelings, or even anger. In more extreme cases, this can even lead to dangerous situations where a parent suffering from advanced conditions such as dementia can be increasingly at risk of injury.

This raises a question that many adult children with aging parents are now asking: what’s the best way to assist our parents in their home, without infringing on their space or “taking over” their independent lifestyle?

 

How to Support Aging Parents

At MyLifetimeHome, we’re experts on that exact topic. Our entire mission is to provide stylish, integrated options that retain the independence and dignity of aging in place at home, without feeling forced or clinical. Here are the most important considerations to keep in mind when your aging parents may be facing an increased need for care in their home – or, in more advanced cases, when they can no longer live alone without additional support from family, care providers, or other professionals within their home environment.

1) Listen Carefully & Let Them Ask You for Help

Parents hold clearly defined roles of authority from the moment their child is born. When that power balance starts to shift, many parents struggle to adapt to it. Others may not want to feel like a “bother”, choosing to put up with their situation to mitigate a perceived fuss in their child’s own lives. They will not ask for help directly and may turn down any direct offers that come their way.

We recommend using a more subtle and indirect approach. Listen carefully to your parents when you see them; make note of any difficulties or struggles they are experiencing. When appropriate, you can offer assistance anytime they may need it, making it clear that it will not be an imposition. Even if they don’t take you up on it right away, the seeds will be planted for the future, and they will know you are coming from a place of genuine concern. 

MyHomeConcierge™ Service from MyLifetimeHome

Sometimes, even your best efforts to be helpful for your parents won’t be accepted. In such cases, it might be worth looking into a third-party service that can check in on your parents’ home without causing friction in the relationship; this service would note any potential safety, maintenance, or quality of life issues that need attention. As leaders in the aging-in-place industry, we happen to have a VIP service available for just that reason!

The MyHomeConcierge™ service is available to past clients of MyLifetimeHome and its parent company, Pinnacle Group, as well as their related families. If you choose this program, a qualified professional will come out to the home and perform a scheduled multi-point, interior/exterior inspection, complete with a thorough report and a library of reference photos. From there, we can recommend service packages to take care of incoming issues; these could be anything from a snowbird’s seasonal check-in to tech support, yard cleaning, and annual home maintenance.

For parents who don’t want to infringe on their child’s time, it is an extraordinary solution that helps maintain their independence, while allowing both sides feel acknowledged and satisfied with the results. And perhaps, subtly funding some or all of these services (with some sibling help, of course!) may be your way of contributing to your parent’s wellbeing.

2) Let Them Maintain as Much Independence as Possible

If you truly wish to help your parents thrive in their golden years, one of the best things you can do is work with them in the aging-in-place process, not working instead of them. Every person cherishes independence and a sense of personal accomplishment, even for small tasks, and just because we get older does not mean this diminishes. In fact, it can become a simple joy in life, with a certain pleasure in the routine everyday things we can still do.

So, as much as possible, do not deny your parents the independence or mental calisthenics needed to complete their daily tasks. It may take longer, and it may not be perfect, but it’s worth celebrating and doing anyway. Encouraging independence is always better for our mental health, dexterity, and emotional well-being than creating an environment of dependence in its place.

3) Treat Them with Respect and Dignity

It is tempting to frame the care of aging parents staying at home as an inversion of the child-parent relationship, but that’s not quite accurate. Parents are adults, worthy of respect, dignity, boundaries, and everything else that you would want for yourself. You may find it difficult to navigate this new dynamic with a parent, but…it is difficult for them too.

Maintain clear communication as much as possible and ask genuine questions to show that you still consider your parents’ ultimate outcome and motives in all decision-making. It is a small habit that reinforces your relationship and shows that their input is still a driving force within it – which, in turn, can defuse any anxiety about losing their lifelong identity as they age.

4) Prioritize Their Safety

This is a very sensitive topic that is highly dependent on your individual situation. When aging parents either are having difficulties or simply can’t live alone anymore, due to cognitive decline or a physical impairment of some kind, you may be required to step in and assist in making decisions for their own health and safety. This should be considered separately from matters of convenience or desire; those decisions are less imperative but more important for quality of life and happiness and should be made as much as possible in consultation with the parents living in their home.

In short, only act unilaterally to make a decision about your parents’ home life if there are legitimate safety issues that can arise if you do not. 

Pros and Cons of Aging at Home

If aging parents living at home is proving to be too hard to manage safely, it may be time to consider other options, such as downsizing to a more manageable home within their neighborhood, or potentially moving to a retirement villa or a senior care facility. We understand that this is a big decision, which is why we have literally written the book on how to effectively approach it. Our Pinnacle Pros & Cons Guide is a downloadable e-book compares living options for seniors, allowing you to choose the path that best suits your circumstances. We have also created a service whereby we can work with your realtor of choice to find a ‘reasonably suitable’ home in your parents’ preferred neighborhood. We are then able to provide the consultation for what needs to be modified to transform this newfound ‘reasonably suitable’ house to the exact outcome needed for both current and future needs for your parents; all for no charge! We have transformed countless homes under our Renovate or Relocate banner using this model.

5) Use Technology & Smart Design to Help

In today’s world, there are countless options for customizing, retrofitting, and renovating homes with stylishly integrated and incredibly useful aging-in-place technology and designs. We specialize in this, creating lifetime homes full of aesthetic and elegant choices that maintain dignity and independence while dually serving as accessible, supportive elements of daily life.

These range widely – major rebuilds to incorporate lifts, remove walls or stairs, or completely redo an accessible bathroom; smart technology with blinds, lights, and doors controlled by an app or voice commands; enhanced lighting in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of heavy use; lowered countertops or pull-down cabinets; and much, much more.

Our professional consultants can discuss in detail with you, and your parents, exactly what they may need, as well as what is important to them in form and function at every step of the planning and renovation process. We promise to be there to offer guidance, answers, resources, advice, and empathy…as well as excitement for this journey.

 

Creating the Best Home for Aging in Place

Studies show that 8 out of 10 aging adults would prefer to stay in their own home, surrounded by a familiar environment and neighbourhood. Should you choose to go this route, we’re here to advise and assist on how to help aging parents stay in their home, with minimal disruptions to quality of life even as circumstances change.

Reach out to our certified, accredited team of professional builders, designers, and health professionals today – and make sure that your whole family has the peace of mind that comes with choosing MyLifetimeHome™ as your partner in this important, yet rewarding, journey for a life well-lived!