Maintaining Independence and Dignity

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Happy independent senior 

You might be stuck wondering what to do. Mom and Dad’s health is starting to slowly decline. Maybe you’re noticing little differences in the way they handle day-to-day tasks. You walk in for a visit and notice the oven is still on, or the laundry hamper is overflowing. Wasn’t Mom in that outfit two days ago – how long has she been wearing that? You are thinking that it’s time for them to have help, but you know they would hate the idea of living in a retirement residence. Weighing the options of staying at home or not often leaves you feeling helpless. It’s like hitting a brick wall; most seniors would rather stay in their own home – but they also want to stay independent by taking care of themselves. So, again they’re left with the question, “What do we do?”

1. Have a Conversation

To maintain their dignity, ensure they are not feeling bombarded. Take things at an easy pace but definitely do not avoid having a straight-forward conversation. The 40-70 Rule: An Action Plan for Successful AgingSM is a program that was launched by Home Instead Senior Care in 2008. Designed with experts from the field, the package aims to help families who are struggling to start those difficult conversations with Mom and Dad. Living choices, financial choices, health, relationships or dating, and driving – these are all extremely important aspects of their life and it is important that you are all on the same page when it comes to their wishes, what your family can afford, and what will be best for everyone. The digital-booklet is completely free and can be downloaded by clicking here.
We surveyed many families across Canada and asked them why these ‘tricky talks’ are not happening. Nearly half of those surveyed (45%) described their critical conversations with parents as uncomfortable, often very emotional with yelling and tears, or even unsuccessful. Discussing the issues is not easy for either of you, but it is definitely necessary. Check out the Interactive Conversation Tree to see if you’ve really had those tough conversations.  
Other families have been in your shoes before. Visit these links to see common scenarios from the senior’s perspective and the adult son or daughter’s perspective.

2. Start Slow

There are still so many questions that arise, even after your parents have agreed to extra help around the home. How often is their CAREGiver going to come – is it going to be a monthly, weekly or daily occurrence? How long should they be here for? How long can we afford? What will they be doing while they’re here?
There are so many different reasons why a CAREGiver might come into your home and at first it can seem staggering. It could start off as companionship and home help. Once your parents need more help with daily tasks like bathing you will need a Personal Support Worker. Click here to read “Home Care Options Explained”, an extremely informative article that covers a wide range of options for a variety of scenarios. Also, check out our website to read about all the different quality services our Home Instead CAREGivers will be able to expertly provide to you and your family.
Home Instead Senior Care is extremely flexible and accommodating with scheduling a CAREGiver; give us a call for a free consultation to learn more about our services. Dial 416.239.2200 for the Etobicoke area and 905.276.2273 for Mississauga.

3. Consider A​​​​lternatives

Independent Living 

If your parents are able to stay in their own home, there are plenty of ways to make it a safer environment, so that they are able to continue managing their own care. Caring.com cites it as “future-fitting” their home, and it involves making some adjustments to the space as well as purchasing some helpful products. For example, grab bars can be installed in the washroom; a special bathtub equipped with a seat, a slip-proof floor and a door can be installed. Automated, robotic vacuums that zoom around the house can clean for them, or pillboxes can dispense their daily medication. If this sounds like a good option for your parents, continue reading suggestions in this article, entitled “Aging-In-Place Gadgets” or “Ways to Help Them Age in Place”.    

ECHO Homes

ECHO Housing is another possible option. It stands for Elderly Cottage Housing Opportunity. They first caught on in the United States in the late 80s, and have been promoted as an inexpensive housing solution for older adults who aren’t able to maintain a full-size home, but who are adamant about staying independent. ECHO Homes are miniature cottages that are built in a backyard or attached to an existing home. It gives your parents the privacy and independence they desire but also gives you a sense of security and relief knowing they’re there with you safe and sound. You can read more information about ECHO Homes, such as the advantages and potential drawbacks by clicking here.  

Respite C​​are

Larger families that live in close proximity to each other may be able to manage care for their parents on their own. It could be that you take turns, each responsible for a few months out of the year. However, caregiving can become quite stressful and may take a toll on your health, so it would be good to consider planning for frequent respite care. Respite Care is when a CAREGiver will provide temporary care so that the primary caregiver can have some well needed rest. Here at Home Instead Senior Care, we provide quality respite care to family caregivers that need a break. It could be a daily visit for a few hours, or even a weekly or monthly visit. You can call our office anytime to schedule a consultation and then look forward to some well needed “me time”.   

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