Caring for Elderly Parents: Caregiver Assistance

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Donna Rice visits Rose Hill Senior Center to stay active. However, growing old is not exactly how she imagined.

"Honestly it's been tough. My husband has quite a few health issues, and I have my own,” Rice said.

Now that she lives miles away from her children, a family caregiver might not be an option if needed down the road. Yet, a home health aide could be.

"You become their friend and like their family,” said Tara Spallino, Alabama Cares Coordinator from Southern Regional Council on Aging (SARCOA).

They visit frequently and do small chores an elderly parent has trouble with.

"Cooking, cleaning, mopping, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom,” explained Spallino.

Sometimes, a parent is reluctant to change, and after all they did for you, guilt magnifies the elephant in the room. When they reject help, encouragement can be the turning point.

"Let the aid come out and try. Just one time and see how you like them. Usually after the one time, they fall in love with the aides,” said Crystal Dawson, Lead Case Manager at SouthernCare Hospice in Dothan.

When it is time to "up the ante” for aging loved ones, do not let a parent's slip in the bathroom be the shotgun start. “Senior proof" their home just like they "baby proofed" it for you.

Spallino said, "Eliminate those barriers in the way throughout the home. Make a path where they can get through real easily.”

Not only will a visiting nurse help with small tasks, but they keep tabs on health.

"The families usually can't care for the patient at home by themselves. They need someone to come in and help guide them as far as medications,” explained Dawson.

Donna Rice agrees. She says keeping track of her generic pills is becoming difficult.

"One month it's called one thing and the next month it's a different name. And you constantly have to look up and say ok why am I taking this,” she said.

However, by staying active at the senior center and communicating with her family, she and her husband remain in good spirits.

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