A Mini-Guide to Helping Your Parents Retain Independence

As your parents age, it’s important to strike a good balance between caring for them and helping them to remain independent for as long as possible. No one likes to be made to feel helpless, especially if they are still capable, so you shouldn’t be too overbearing with your parents’ care if it’s not necessary. However, if your parent has medical needs or struggles with daily tasks, it is important to get them the support they need. Here’s a quick guide to helping your parents retain their independence and advice on what to do if you feel they need a higher level of care.

Assess their needs

The first thing to do is to assess your parents’ needs. Are they capable of living independently? You need to determine if it is definitely safe for them to live without supervision. Consider any health conditions that may need monitoring and ask them if there are any daily self-care tasks that they struggle with. At the bare minimum they need to be able to eat well and maintain their hygiene to be able to continue living independently. If they can manage these essential tasks, and you feel they can live by themselves safely, that is something you should encourage and support.

Help out with difficult tasks

Whilst your parent may be able to complete essential tasks, such as meal preparation, dressing, and washing, they may struggle with more difficult tasks, such as home maintenance. Volunteer to help out with tasks like these, while still encouraging your parent to continue with more manageable things. This way, you can help out where needed while still encouraging your parent to be independent when they can.

Don’t overstep

It’s important not to overstep and patronise your parents. If they are capable of doing particular tasks, such as washing or dressing, let them do it. You should consider each task on an individual basis, rather than assuming your parent isn’t capable of anything and needs a higher level of care than they actually do. As long as it’s safe to do so, you should encourage your parents to be as independent as possible.

Home modifications

Home modifications, such as a toilet rail or a stairlift, can be a great way of allowing your parents to stay in their own home and continue to live independently. Items such as these can assist your parents with daily tasks, such as going to the toilet or climbing the stairs, without the need for help from you or a carer.

What to do if they need more care

If you feel it is simply no longer safe for your parents to live independently, it’s important to consider other options. You should start asking yourself questions such as ‘what residential care options are there?’ and ‘where can I find a care home near me?’. Whilst independence is important, safety and adequate care are even more important.

Types of residential care

There are numerous residential care options available, such as assisted living and care homes. These are suited to different levels of care needs. Assisted living is a good middle-ground option that allows residents to maintain their independence whilst still having 24/7 access to care, should they need it. Care homes are more suited to people with medical needs and higher care needs. To help you decide which option to choose, consider what type of care your parent needs.