How to Care for an Elderly Parent at Home

Caring for an elderly parent at home can be a deeply rewarding experience, filled with moments of closeness and shared memories. It’s also a great first step in your loved one’s long-term care plan, ensuring that they receive the care and support to age gracefully and independently in the comfort of familiar surroundings.

Balancing the responsibilities of caring for an elderly parent at home with your own must-dos may seem daunting at first. But with the right approach and support systems in place, it’s absolutely manageable and totally worth the effort. 

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Countless others have walked this path, and there’s a wealth of resources, tools, tips, and strategies to make the experience smoother for everyone involved. Let’s walk through 10 practical steps to help you create a safe and nurturing environment for your elderly parent while ensuring your own well-being, too.

1. Understanding Your Elderly Parent’s Needs

The first step in caring for an elderly parent at home is to assess what is needed, how often it’s needed, and who is best suited to provide it. Understanding your parent’s wishes is also a crucial part of this process.

For some seniors, a simple routine that involves regular daily or weekly check-ins and companionship might be enough. Others may need more hands-on assistance with errands and transportation, meal preparation, housekeeping, personal care, and more. Keep in mind that these needs may evolve over time, so regular reassessment is also important.

Engage in an open and honest conversation with your parent, positioning yourself as a supportive partner, not an authority figure. Approach the discussion with empathy and sensitivity, emphasizing your desire to enhance their quality of life. Be clear and direct about your concerns but also tactful and considerate. 

Try to include your siblings and any other close family members, as well. Above all, reassure your parent that your goal is to support them in maintaining their independence and autonomy. You’re not trying to take away their ability to make their own decisions or impose your own agenda.

2. Assessing Your Capacity and Support Network

At the same time, it’s also important to assess your own capacity and set expectations for what you can and cannot do or aren’t comfortable with. For example, maybe you’d like to help around the house and run errands, but you’re not comfortable with providing medical care and would rather coordinate an at-home care professional if that need arises. 

Even if you plan to be the primary caregiver, it’s important to realize that caregiving requires a team effort. Try to get the entire family involved in creating a caregiving plan right from the start. See if someone can provide respite care on a specific day each week or month, assist with errands and transportation, or come by to tidy up the house each week.

Each task plays a vital role in your loved one's collective care, and you’ll wear yourself out if you try to do it all alone. If your options are limited when it comes to close friends and family, home health aids can make life easier for seniors and caregivers, picking up the slack on demand or as needed.

Their services include assisting with daily activities, providing companionship and support, personal care, medication management, and more. Once you know the needs of your loved one, your own capacity, and the capacity of your support network, be willing to seek professional help as needed.

3. Incorporate Technology Into Caregiving

Embracing technology can revolutionize the way you care for your elderly parent at home, offering peace of mind and easier communication. Remote caregiving systems, like Jubilee TV, allow you to monitor and support your loved one, even when you’re miles away.

With Jubilee TV’s Activity Feed, you can effortlessly stay connected to your elderly loved one's habits and routines, all through their television screen. It's a nonintrusive way to keep tabs on their well-being without disrupting their independence or privacy. And if something seems amiss, a simple video call can put your worries to rest.

From wearable health trackers that monitor vital signs to smart home devices that automate tasks and enhance safety, the possibilities are endless. Consider devices like smart thermostats which adjust temperature automatically, or video doorbells with two-way audio to provide an added layer of security.

4. Creating a Safe and Accessible Environment

Of course, safety is a top concern when caring for an elderly parent at home, but you’ll also want to ensure independence and freedom of movement. Installing grab bars in key areas, eliminating tripping hazards, and improving lighting are great places to start.

An outside contractor may be required to help with more extensive modifications, such as widening doorways for wheelchair access or installing a chair lift. These modifications will help your parent maintain safe mobility at home.

Ensure that there is easily accessible seating around the home, and consider assistive devices—such as a walker or rollator—that can make your parent’s day-to-day living easier. Take proactive measures to prevent accidents and reassess regularly as needs evolve.

5. Monitoring Medications and Medical Needs

In addition to transportation, your parent may need help remembering doctor’s appointments, preparing for home health visits, or navigating technology for telehealth appointments. Some may also need help remembering to take medications or monitor certain health conditions.

Work with your parent to determine what they can handle on their own and what they need assistance with. Keep a list of your parent’s medications and dosages handy, along with a copy of their insurance documents, ID card, and healthcare proxy, if applicable. 

Use technology to your advantage with apps for seniors that provide reminders for medication schedules and appointments.  

6. Ensuring a Balanced Diet And Easy to Prepare Meals

As we age, our needs and abilities can shift, sometimes making it more challenging to shop, prepare, and cook balanced meals. This often leads to skipping meals or eating unhealthy processed foods with poor nutritional value. There are several strategies you can employ to ensure that your parent has access to nutritious, easy meals.

Start by keeping the pantry, fridge, and freezer stocked with healthy, easy-to-prepare staples like pre-cut vegetables, canned beans, and frozen fruits. If you enjoy cooking and have the time, you could even prepare several meals ahead in large batches, allowing for leftovers that can easily be reheated.

Meal delivery services can be another great option. Check into subscription services and local programs like Meals On Wheels. Stock up on your parent’s favorite beverages to ensure they are drinking plenty of fluids. 

Involving your parent in meal planning, shopping, and preparation is important for promoting their sense of independence, so try to include them as much as possible.

7. Keeping Your Elderly Parent Active and Engaged

Living independently is great for seniors, but not if it means withdrawing from a social life or activities and hobbies that keep them engaged. While it may not be reasonable for you to personally assist your parent with attending all of their usual activities, having a safe transportation plan in place is an absolute must.

Enlist the help of friends, family members, or community volunteers to assist with transportation to outings and activities. Many seniors’ organizations, churches, and community centers also offer transportation services specifically for older adults.

Explore local resources like senior centers, libraries, and community centers to find programs and activities designed for seniors. From exercise classes to book clubs and group outings, there are countless opportunities for your parent to stay active and engaged.

8. Addressing Cognitive and Emotional Challenges

We all forget things from time to time, and missing the occasional appointment isn’t cause for immediate alarm. However, if missed appointments or questionable decisions occur frequently, it may be a sign that your loved one needs more assistance. 

It’s also not uncommon for seniors living with memory loss to experience personality changes or mood swings. They sometimes become anxious, fearful, depressed, or suspicious. Establishing a consistent schedule can help with this to some degree.

If your parent’s mood swings or forgetfulness are posing a risk to their safety and well-being, discuss your concerns with their doctor. Depending on what you learn, it may be time to consider a higher level of care, such as hiring a home health aide or companion caregiver.

9. Self-Care for the Caregiver

Don’t overlook your own well-being amidst the responsibilities of caregiving. Prioritizing self-care is important for maintaining your mental and physical health, preventing burnout, and ensuring that you have the energy and resilience required to provide quality care for your loved one.

Schedule regular breaks and downtime to recharge. Engage in activities that you enjoy, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with friends. Seeking support from others is a vital part of providing quality care, so be willing to accept help when offered or needed.

10. When To Consider a Higher Level of Care

So, how do you know when it’s time to consider a higher level of care? If your parent’s needs have become too demanding or complex for you to handle on your own, even with help and support, it may be time for specialized support.

If you feel your parent’s safety is at risk due to declining physical health, mobility issues, or cognitive impairment, it may be necessary to explore options for a safer living environment. Transitioning to a community setting might also be beneficial if your parent is lonely or feeling isolated.

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotionally drained, it’s important to acknowledge your limitations. Bringing in additional support may be the best thing for you and your loved one.

Remember, You Don’t Have to Do It All Alone

Family caregivers are often unaware of the many resources available to help with an elderly parent’s care and expenses. Resources like can connect you with programs and benefits available in your local area. is another fantastic resource that lists hundreds of programs designed for seniors. There are programs out there to help with prescription medications, housing, healthcare, home care, utility bills, meals, transportation, and more. It’s definitely worth taking the time to apply and see if you qualify!

Remember, caring for an elderly parent at home is a shared responsibility! Seeking assistance through family members, professionals, and technology is a proactive step toward ensuring the best outcome for you and your loved one.