As your elderly parents age, you’ll find yourself faced with numerous difficult questions. One of the more challenging ones is in relation to whether or not you should allow them to continue aging at home.
The Benefits of Aging in Place
According to this AARP survey, 90 percent of American seniors have a desire to live at home for as long as possible. They overwhelmingly prefer aging in place to moving into a care facility. And who can blame them? Aging in place offers a number of benefits, including:
- Maintain independence. The desire for independence doesn’t disappear as you get older. Your body, however, does slowly give out. By letting a parent age in place, you give them the ability to maintain some of the independence that they have. For example, they might still be able to fix a pot of coffee in the morning or water houseplants in the afternoon.
- Familiar settings and routines. We all get used to our own version of normal. Routines and familiar settings become a source of comfort. Aging in place allows you to enjoy these benefits.
- Significant cost savings. A private room in a care facility can run upwards of $75,000 to $100,000 per year. If your parent still has several years of life ahead, you can see just how expensive this is. Aging at home still requires certain expenses, but it’s not nearly as costly.
- Healthier and safer. Large care facilities always have a certain level of risk when it comes to viruses and bacterial infections. When aging at home, your elderly parent won’t be exposed to as many risks.
When you add these benefits together, it’s easy to see why so many seniors want to stay in their homes versus move into long-term care facilities. But the challenge is, how do you pull it off in a safe and practical manner?
How to Keep Your Aging Parent at Home
When a parent chooses to age in place, it pushes a lot of the responsibility onto the adult children. As you think about this, here are a few things to consider.
- Be Realistic
Be realistic about how much care you can provide your parent. If you’re an empty nester with no job, then you might be able to provide hours of care every day. On the other hand, if you work 40 hours per week and are raising small children, your schedule will be very limited. Don’t try to force a situation.
- Become a Paid Caregiver
If finances are part of the decision – and they usually are – consider whether you can actually be paid to become your parent’s caregiver. While every state has its own rules regarding paid caregivers, most have programs that allow for family members to step into a paid role.
Take New York, for example. New Yorkers can hire a family member or friend to care for them and they’ll get paid using Medicaid programs. This allows adult children to potentially step back from some of their professional obligations and better absorb the financial burden of caring for an elderly parent who is aging in place.
- Share Responsibilities With Other Siblings
If you have siblings, you should divide up responsibilities. This will look different depending on each sibling’s circumstances; however, it’s something to consider.
Let’s say, for example, that you live in the area, your older sibling lives 45 minutes away, and your younger sibling lives on the other side of the country. You could provide most of the care during the week, while the older sibling could provide care on the weekends, and the third sibling could handle all of the administrative things like paying bills, tracking finances, scheduling doctor’s appointments, etc.
- Address Safety Concerns
Much like you would “baby proof” a house when your toddler gets old enough to crawl around, there are certain safety precautions you should take to ensure an elderly individual can safely age in place.
Pay especially close attention to falling hazards, fire hazards, and security. Having security alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire alarms, and other safety features is a must.
Adding it All Up
Aiming to keep your parents at home so that they can age in place is a very noble thing to do. And while it doesn’t come without personal sacrifice, it’s nice to know there are certain steps you can take to mitigate some of the burdens that accompany this lifestyle choice.
Begin implementing these as soon as possible to give your aging parent every chance to live out their desire to age in place.