Dealing With Dad: How To Help An Aging Parent Cope With Limitations When Living Alone

If you have concerns about the health and safety of an aging parent, you are far from alone. In fact, recent statistics show that approximately 30% of adults who have at least one living parent are providing some type of care or support for them. Many of these adults are dealing with a situation where their elderly parent chooses to live alone, yet requires assistance of some kind in order to do so safely. If your aging father (or mother) is living alone and you are becoming concerned about their safety, the following tips will help you help them remain independent and safe in their own home for as long as possible.

Determine the scope of the problem

In order to help your aging parent, it is important for you to first understand exactly what limitations and potential hazards they may be facing when living alone. This will require a candid conversation with the parent, their doctor and others who may have additional insight and understanding about any health conditions and issues your parent may be facing. When doing this research, pay special attention to any information that might indicate that your parent is not able to handle normal daily activities, such as driving, cooking and caring for their home.

Eliminate potential hazards

If you determine that your parent faces potential hazards, you will need to address these in a forthright manner with the parent. For instance, if your parent has vision or other problems that limit their ability to drive safely, help them to understand that they must give up driving in order to remain safe and that you will help them come up with a suitable substitute. This might include offering to do the driving for them, arranging taxi or bus service, finding a neighbor, friend or other relative willing to assist or any combination thereof.

Make use of available services

Determine what services are available in the area where your parent or parents live that might be a good fit in your plan to help them remain safe, yet independent in their own home. Some ideas to consider are:

  • weekly lawn care services
  • services to assist with heavy cleaning on a periodic or as needed basis, such as window, carpet and other cleaning services
  • laundry services who will pick up soiled laundry and drop off clean laundry on a weekly basis
  • delivery services for groceries, medications and other needs

In addition, explore the various home healthcare agencies available near your parent's home. These services may include home health visits from medical professionals to monitor health issues, service specialists to assist with daily hygiene, meals or cleaning, as well other needs associated with the aging process. In many cases, some or all of the cost for these services may be covered under your parent's health insurance or be funded by various agencies devoted to the care of the elderly.