What to do when parents come home to live with you
Help for Caregiver Series
This question has come across my mind many times. I’m a single woman living in a one bedroom apartment with a little dog. What would I do if one of my parents needed my full time care? My other friends who care for their parents live in a situation where they have homes that come with guest bedrooms or a section of their house like a den that can be converted to living quarters for an ailing parent. There is, though so much more to consider.
Before the parent arrives.
The decision has been made by you and your family that your ailing parent is coming to stay with you all. Perhaps you are caring for a relative lie and Aunt or Uncle. In any event there is preparation that must be considered past what room they will reside.
- · You must first establish a relationship of open detailed communication with the doctor. It is very important to know the condition your parent is in. There could be side effects to medication taken and those need to be known. The condition the parent is in could cause nose bleeding or wondering and regression into ones childhood memories. There may be pain associated with the parents condition or inability to walk any great distances. Knowing your parents limitations is important but you may also need to encourage them to do more and be more active.
- · In the event that you don’t care for the relationship your parents doctor is having with you or your parent in that they are not looking at all options and perhaps not disclosing important information or answering your questions to your satisfaction, you have a right to request another physician. This means you need to ask questions and listen to the answers. (When my mother was ill and in the care of a hospital, each time she was to see her doctor I was there with questions and pen in hand to write the answers. I wrote down what medications she was given and times they were administrated. I also kept tabs on when the nurses were to visit and what they would do when visiting such as taking blood and vitals and if medications were changed.)
- · You are going to need help and before your parent comes home is when you are going to want to get a team together to help. Your parent may qualify for a home health aide so finding this out and using this provision will be of great help, if for nothing more than to give you a few hours each day to take care of your personal needs. If you have children they may need to add a few chores such as making breakfast or doing laundry for your parent. Other siblings if available can be included to take the parent to doctor visits or two their home one weekend a month. Look into and tap all of your resources, then create a schedule so that all who can and are willing to help do their part to make the load lighter.
- · Make a list of who to contact for each situation. There may be insurance questions to be answered so being informed as to your parent’s insurance companies is important. Generally a case manager or discharge manager is equipped with much of the information to keep you in the know of charity organizations and support groups that can assist. Once you have this information having a information board in the home perhaps on the patients door or somewhere in the kitchen so that it can be accessable to everyone from the housekeeper, family members, visitors and so on. What medications the parent is on and schedule for these, possible side effects and emergency numbers to call should something go wrong. Make sure the name and phone number of your parents primary care physician is written on this board and whatever instructions are needed should an emergency happen.
- · There are some first aides that you as the caregiver may want to know and be certain all other members of the family know such as how to properly lift and move your parent. It would be a good thing if all in the family took a first aide course and a course in CPR.
Equipping the home
· The safety of your parent must be considered and there are many types or equipment that can help you help them stay safe. Medicaid provides many pieces of equipment to help free of charge to the caregiver such as lift chairs, scooters, walkers, handicap ramps and lifts. Look into acquiring these provisions.
· Bathroom safety is of utmost concern as the bathroom is where most accidents occur for the elderly and infirm. Hand rails in the bathtub may need to be installed and perhaps even next to the commode. (My mother has a chair in her bathroom for taking a shower. She also has the use of an elevated seat on the toilet so that she does not have to sit so low in order to use the facility) Night lights may be needed to light paths through hallways and stair cases.
· Researching dealers that have good reputation for service and repair of the equipment sold will relieve a great deal of stress should there be a need. There are many companies that also provide discounted or second hand equipment that will be a relief on your budget.
Ready to welcome parent home
So now you are ready to welcome your parent to your home. This transition will be life changing for the both of you, but with good preparation, patience and love, it can also be a very welcoming one.