This aging parents checklist will help you navigate the often overwhelming transition into caregiving. From household safety to maintaining appropriate boundaries, there are many elements of care to consider to ensure your parent’s well-being as they enter the sunset of life. Within this caring for aging parents checklist, you’ll find a comprehensive set of suggestions to help you understand what the next steps are.
Using this tool, you will gain the confidence necessary to provide your parent with the care they need to ensure the best quality of life, whether they remain at home or transition into an assisted care facility.
Items for Your Aging Parents Checklist
Begin by assessing your parent’s needs.
What tasks are essential for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being? What tasks are necessary for their quality of life? Where do they need assistance completing these tasks? Examples include:
- Walking. Do they need assistive devices?
- Feeding. Do they need special meal prep, like smaller bites or softer foods, or help to eat?
- Dressing and Grooming. Do they need assistance getting dressed and ready for the day?
- Toileting. Do they require help using the restroom? To what extent?
- Bathing. Can they shower with assistive aides like a shower wand, shower chair, or walk-in tub? Will they require an assistant?
- Transferring. Do they need help moving from bed to a wheelchair or walker, from their device to the toilet?
- Finances. Do they have the funds they need to keep up their household? To pay for care? To pay for necessary medical expenses? Do they need assistance managing bill paying to avoid delays?
- Transportation. Do they need help getting to and from appointments?
- Shopping. Do they need help managing shopping trips?
- Meal prep. Can they cook meals, or do they need assistance with prep or cooking?
- Medication management. Do they remember to reorder and take their meds, or do they need reminders?
- Home Upkeep. Can they keep up on cleaning or maintenance?
Review safety issues.
Repair or replace risks. Acquire tools and assistive devices to ease challenges.
- If necessary, rearrange furniture to ensure clear, accessible pathways.
- Ensure light switches are within easy reach and consider switching toggles with paddle switches.
- Consider adding more lighting to low-light areas like hallways and countertops.
- Mark floor level changes with bright tape or contrasting paint.
- Remove loose rugs or floor mats as these create a trip hazard. Secure any loose carpeting.
- Remove all cords that extend over walkways. Secure along walls where possible; conceal beneath cord covers if not.
- Ensure all seating is sturdy and preferably has arms that ease sitting and standing.
- Check that smoke alarms and CO detectors have fresh batteries and remain in good working order.
- Ensure all railings are secure and present along stairs, landings, and other fall-risk areas.
- Invest in assistive devices to help them navigate daily issues. This can improve their quality of life, but it can prevent them from risky actions to solve challenging tasks.
- If they can no longer safely drive, remove the temptation to get behind the wheel.
Become their healthcare advocate.
Learn what coverages they have and how to access them. Understand their medical conditions, medications, and treatment programs so you can ask good questions and be proactive in their ongoing care.
End-of-life care can quickly become an overwhelming burden if there isn’t an understanding of resources and needs. Consider calling an estate planning attorney to discuss a trust and financial power of attorney options. It’s also important to know that older adults are frequently targets of financial exploitation.
Discuss end-of-life care wishes.
While challenging to discuss, it’s essential to respect your aging parent’s wishes. You can only do so by discussing it. Considerations include:
- Naming an executor
- Taking a home inventory.
- Completing a will.
- Consider end-of-life care decisions like when to provide life-saving care, pain management treatments, and similar considerations.
- Select a medical proxy – the person who can best understand and voice your desires for medical decisions. This prevents family squabbles over what your parent wants should they be incapacitated.
Discuss aging in place.
If your parent requires additional care than can be provided or staying at home becomes a safety issue, what kind of facility would they prefer to live in? While it’s often preferable to stay in their own home, that may not be the best option in all cases.
Check for grants and credits.
There are resources available to help you secure funding and assistance for home improvements, assistive devices, and other costs associated with providing care to aging parents. This includes programs like the Section 504 Home Repair program, USDA Repair Grants, the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation Grant, the Cash and Counseling Program, and more.
Set clear boundaries.
It can be challenging for adults to transition into a need for more proactive care, especially from their children. That role reversal can lead to an overstepping of boundaries without a clear discussion of where those boundaries lie. Plans should not be shifted on a whim, outside of emergencies or need changes, like new medical issues or required appointments. Have this conversation with parents and all other family caregivers.
Create a schedule of visits.
Coordinate this with all caregivers. A schedule helps alleviate the burden of care from falling too heavily on any one person and ensures your parent’s needs are all being well-met. Plan out who will be doing any necessary tasks and when in advance. Know you can step in to fill a needed role if the planned caregiver has an emergency or illness. A consistent schedule, if manageable, is best. It’s easier not to forget something that becomes a regular routine.
Gather vital information.
Make an accessible, easy-to-follow list of all vital information for their caregiving team. List all medications, diagnosis, medical care team contact information, emergency contacts, dietary restrictions, and care preferences. Make these handy to all caregivers and easily accessible within your parents’ home. If there’s an emergency, having this information immediately accessible can improve outcomes. Consider taping an information sheet to the back of the front door or their fridge. Remember to update it as needed.
Care for yourself, too.
Consider seeking out a therapist if you are not already working with one. Take time away. Develop coping strategies and stress reduction techniques. Caregiving is hard work.
Consider hiring a part-time or full-time home care provider.
These professionals can take some of the burdens from family, fill in gaps where nobody is available to provide care, and provide relief so you can maintain a healthy life balance.