assistance for the elderly

Assistance for the Elderly

How To, Recommendations and Resources

Determining when your parents need more assistance for the elderly is hard but it's always better to start with more help than they need.

This article will help you determine what areas to look at regarding day-to-day function and what the next step is to address any assistance for the elderly needed.

It's certainly true that you can't do everything for your aging parents. It's important to use resources that provide help for elderly.

This includes considering if a move to safer or more assistive housing is needed. It also includes things such as home care for elderly, housekeeping, and many other services.

Depending on your aging parents needs, they may also benefit from supports and equipment to make their lives safer and easier.

Some assistance for the elderly might be funded through your health care system while other assistance might have to be funded privately.

First Step: Determine What Kind of Help your Parents Need

Second Step: Connect with Local and Regional Resources

Third Step: Monitor Parent's Situation and Reassess as Needed

How to Assess Their Situation

Determine if your aging parents are managing safely with the supports and equipment they already have in place or they require more assistance for the elderly.

You may need to obtain the services of health care professionals to accurately determine their needs. For more information about the different health care professionals and their roles: Elderly Health Care.

Here are some areas to look at:

Household Activities

  • Housekeeping
  • Yard work
  • Snow Removal
  • Garbage and recycling - taking it to the curb for pickup
  • Groceries
    • Making a list
    • Doing the shopping
  • Making meals
  • Managing finances and paying bills

Personal Care

  • Dressing
  • Grooming
    • Putting on deodorant
    • Brushing teeth or caring for and putting in dentures
    • Brushing hair
    • Shaving
    • Putting on makeup
  • Bathing
  • Toileting

Driving and other Transportation

  • Safe driving
  • Not becoming lost or disorientated when driving
  • Managing transportation
    • Taking the bus safely
    • Calling a taxi
    • Organizing private paid transportation
    • Paying for transportation services

Physical: Transfers and Walking

  • Able to transfer safely(move from one surface to another)
    • Into and out of bed
    • On and off the toilet
    • In and out of the tub or shower
    • Onto and off of a chair
    • Into and out of a wheelchair
    • Into and out of the home
    • Into and out of a vehicle
  • Able to walk safely
    • With or without walking aids (cane, walker)
    • Without holding onto furniture
    • Without holding onto another person
    • Indoors
    • Outdoors

Determining how much assistance for the elderly is challenging. If you are unsure of how your elderly parent is managing in any of these areas and/or don't trust them to be totally truthful with their answers (the elderly can be proud), involve a health care professional or try to do these tasks with your elderly loved one.

Once you and/or a health care professional has determined what your aging parents are safely and easily completing and what they are not, you can determine the required help for elderly.

This can include hiring private help, having friends/family provide assistance for the elderly, moving to a senior housing option and other options (described below).

There are a variety of professionals that can assist you in this process, including: geriatric care managers, doctors, nurses, therapists (physical, occupational and speech), home support companies, neighbours, other family members and most importantly, your aging parents.

Involving your aging parents in the decision process is essential. It is ultimately their decision and you cannot force them to accept help or move to a senior living community.

This is easier said then done and it takes time to determine what your aging parents can safely do and what they are having difficulty doing. Their health may also fluctuate so at times they may be independent and at other times they may need some assistance.

When planning the level of assistance for the elderly necessary, it's important to plan for the times their health is the worst so they are the best taken care of.

Monitor and Re-Assess

Arranging assistance for the elderly is more of an ongoing process than simply a task you do once.

Abilities and needs change (sometimes quickly) so it's important to plan ahead.

Even if the senior is safely living independently in the community, plan ahead and determine what they (and you) will do if they need additional help for elderly.

The next section describes different assistance for the elderly that is available.

What Are The Options

There are a variety of different options to obtain assistance for the elderly. It all depends on what you have discovered when assessing your aging parents situation.

The main options include:

  • Equipment for seniors
  • Housing for elderly
  • Legal and financial
  • Elderly health care
  • Help for elderly:
    • Elderly transportation
    • Home safety
    • Fall prevention
    • Home care for the elderly
    • Elderly day care
    • Caregiver for elderly

Equipment for Seniors

There are many types of equipment that can help your elderly parent manage more safely and easily, often with the added bonus of preventing falls.

This includes:

If you looked at the list above and realized your aging parent is having difficulty with personal care or walking/transfers, there are many pieces of safely equipment for seniors that can help to make their everyday life safer and easier.

For more information about the equipment available to provide assistance for the elderly, Equipment for Seniors or Elderly Care Products.

Housing Options

Depending on how your aging parents are managing in their current living situation, they may be able to safely live in their home in the community or benefit from moving to a senior housing community.

You may have come up with some ideas of equipment for seniors that will help them be safer in their present home.

If they plan to stay in their current home in the community, there are services that provide assistance for the elderly that may be beneficial.

These include:

  • Home Care for the Elderly
  • Housekeeping
  • Ground maintenance (such as snow removal in winter and landscaping/watering/mowing in the summer)
  • Grocery delivery
  • Transportation
  • Handyman (small jobs like changing lightbulbs can be dangerous for seniors with balance and strength issues)
  • Caregiver for Elderly

If your elderly parents are not managing safely in their current living situation - even with the equipment and assistance for the elderly listed above - then they may benefit from moving to a senior housing community. The type of community/facility depends on their needs.

The types include:

  • Senior Retirement Community or Senior Independent Living: these are usually attached housing units set up for seniors. Elderly must be independent but these homes should be better set up for the elderly and provide a "community" for the elderly. Make sure that there are no stairs that need to be used to get to the bedroom, washing or kitchen/bathroom. The entry should be level and there should be at least one easy to use shower stall.
  • Senior Independent Living/Supportive Housing:Similar to the above but often 1 to all 3 meals are provided in the rent.
  • Senior Assisted Living: Usually an apartment complex where meals are provided and there is a nurse or care staff in the building and "on-call" 24 hours a day. Sometimes extra services like toileting or bath assistance for the elderly are extra charges.
  • Skilled nursing facilities (Also called Complex care or Residential care): These are what people often think of as "nursing homes". All meals, nursing care and self-care are provided. These care facilities are for people that are quite frail and can no longer manage without 24-7 nursing and care.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community: Mostly located in the United States, these communities provide multiple levels of care within one building or community without requiring a move. Elderly parents can move there when they are still independent and stay even when they become completely dependent for all care.
  • Low Income Senior Housing: Housing of different types of levels for low-income seniors.
  • Hospice (Also called End of Life Care or Palliative Care): for elderly who are at the end of life. Usually, hospice care is provided when it is estimated a person will live less than 3-12 months.

If you and your aging parents have decided to move, the following are some tips and advice for making it as smooth a transition as possible.

  • Help them sort through their belongings.
  • Mail or deliver items they wish to give to family/friends.
  • Store items they are not sure about keeping, moving or giving away.
  • If they have pets, try to help them move to a place that allows pets as they are good companions (especially at a stressful time such as moving to a new home).
  • Consider having them move close to family and friends as they will likely benefit from having friends/family close. This could include assistance with shopping, transportation, outings, medical appointments, etc.
  • Bring photos of friends and family as it will make their new place feel more like home.
  • Take pictures of how their old home is set up and try to make their new home look as much like this as possible.
  • Send their address and phone number to family and friends. Ask them to phone and send mail so they feel welcome in their new home.
  • If possible, have them move to senior communities where they know other residents. Moving to a senior community can be very stressful and the transition can be smoother if they have friends already living there.

Legal and Financial

Your aging parents will also benefit from reviewing their financial/legal situation when making a large change like this.

This includes legal and financial assistance for the elderly, such as wills, power of attorney and other legal documents. They might also review their life insurance and make sure it still meets their needs.

Elderly Health Care

There are a variety of health care professionals that may be involved in your aging parents care. Depending on your aging parents needs, you may also seek to have these professional involved in your aging parents care as they can improve the quality of life of seniors.

These include:

  • Geriatric Care Managers
  • Doctors
  • Rehabilitation Therapists (including Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist and Speech Language Therapists)
  • Dieticians
  • Community Care Nurses
  • Massage Therapists
  • Opticians

For more information about the different health professionals providing assistance for the elderly, Elderly Health Care

Help for Elderly

Other areas for providing assistance for the elderly are as follows.

For More Information:

Tips And Advice for Arranging Assistance for the Elderly

Coordinating assistance for the elderly is rewarding but also challenging. Some tips and advice include:

1) Plan Ahead

Start discussing their living situation and their future options early. Due to the varying health conditions of seniors, it's hard to recommend a specific age to start talking.

If your parents are of average health for their age, its a good idea to start talking to them about their future care needs when they are 70 yrs old. At this age, they are probably managing well living in their own home in the community.

Start an open discussion by asking "In the future if you ever need more help would you want to move to an independent retirement community or would you prefer to get help at home?" If you already have a few options in mind if and/or when a crisis occurs, you and your aging parents are not only more prepared but the parent will be more accepting of the change.

2) Couples Manage Longer

Aging couples can often manage in their own home longer than singles. Often they help each other out. One senior may still be driving or able to still manage the finances. The average age for needing some help for elderly is 83 yrs old.

3) Involve Your Parents

Assist them in arranging help for elderly. Do not do everything for them as results are better if they are active participants in the decision making process (if possible).

4) Times Of Crisis

A crisis may be a good time (or only time) to make changes - many seniors are reluctant to make any changes to their current living situation.

So if they end up in the emergency room or with a hospital stay, it may be a good time to use the momentum of the situation to help your elderly parent see that it is time for a change.

5) Persistence

Be persistent and don't give up. If your discussions are not producing any changes, do not give up.

Many people (young or old) are more comfortable with their current situation and are reluctant to change. Ask them to think about it and bring it up again and again until you can flush out major objections to the change.

Hopefully at some point they will be more receptive to your discussion and in making changes. Their health may change or they may simply start to see that they are not managing safely.

A good tip is to find out why they are reluctant (maybe finances, maybe they are worried about what will happen to their pet, etc) and then addressing that concern.

6) Know Yourself

Be honest about your emotions and capacity to help for elderly. Be open about what help you can provide and what help you cannot.

7) Tour Senior Communities

Start touring senior living communities. No one will ever want to move if they don't see it first.

It can really reduce resistance once they see some of the senior living communities and how nice they can be. Some seniors have the idea that all senior living communities are the institutional nursing homes portrayed in the media.

8) Communicate About The Move

Communicate about the move and how you can help with all aspects of the move. The process can overwhelm them and may be why they were reluctant at first to the move.

They know it is beyond their current capacity to organize and do on their own. If needed, senior move managers can also help adult children and seniors from start to finish with the entire moving project.

9) Stay Positive

It can be a stressful and challenging situation. Not all siblings will be involved at the same level and you may need to accept that.

Ask for specific assistance at times or hire out for other tasks and services.

10) Respect

Remember that your elderly parents are adults and can make their own decisions (unless deemed incompetent by a medical doctor). They are your parents are not your children.

Remain positive and be persistent in negotiating their reluctance to change. Your aging parents need to be able to maintain their dignity while accepting their newly acquired limitations.


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