These days I hear more and more from friends and readers who are caring for a parent, or who are considering moving a parent into their home.  I will be honest; being a caregiver is not easy. And if your parent is currently living in a care home they like, I would urge you not to rush to move them in with you, until you fully appreciate the responsibility. 

But for those of you who are currently caring for a parent, or who are planning to do so, I thought I would give you a couple tips to make life easier. And for those who are currently caregivers, if you have any tips, please share in the comments!

Bath Time

When we lived in Lake Havasu City Mom’s bedroom had an adjoining bathroom and sitting room. She had to step into her bathtub to take a shower. We had the tub removed and installed a walk-in shower. Bath time consisted of me lounging on her bed, watching television, while she showered in the adjacent bathroom—door open. I was just there in case there was a problem.

She always wore bath shoes, used a bench, and stepped from the shower onto a plush bath mat, so her wet feet wouldn’t touch the slick floor. 

But then she entered her nineties and had a stroke. For a few months home-health services came into our home each week and helped Mom with her shower, and they eventually showed me how to do it. I didn’t bathe Mom so much as helped her get into the shower and sit down on her bathchair, and then when she was done, help her safely exit the tub. It was precarious, and once she did fall. 

In our recent move, we gave Mom the master bedroom because it has an adjoining bath. This house has two bathrooms, and unfortunately, neither one is a walk-in shower. In fact, Mom’s is a Jacuzzi tub.

We will eventually remove the Jacuzzi tub, because frankly, none of us can use it safely. Before we made an offer on the house, I had to figure out how we could safely bathe Mom, because we couldn’t afford a bathroom remodel right away. And even if we could, that would take time.

What I found on Amazon was this nifty bath chair. I love it! And it makes bath time so much easier and safer. Mom simply sits on the chair, and there is a lever that turns the chair, and another one that easily moves the chair into the tub. 

She no longer must step in and out of a tub, she just sits down. The chair has a safety belt, which I use, so she doesn’t slip off. And I bought a special shower curtain that keeps water off the floor. 

Because this tub is so tall, I had to purchase leg extensions for the chair. And when mom is using it, she is so short that her feet don’t touch the bottom of the tub. So I bought a small plastic foot stool, so she can rest her feet on it while she bathes herself. She does NOT stand on the foot stool, it is just a comfortable place to rest her feet while she bathes herself using the handheld shower head.

What day is it?

Mom was constantly asking me, what day is it? I found this calendar clock on Amazon and she loves it! I put it where she can see it from her bed. Older people often get disoriented, and while she does have vascular dementia, she can still read this clock, and it helps her when she wakes up in the middle of the night to understand if it is night or day. This clock is one of her favorite things. Even if you are not caring for your parent, it’s a great gift idea for an older person.

Loud TV

We moved into a much smaller house than the one in Havasu. In fact, our bedroom is right next to Mom’s. In our Havasu house, our bedroom was on the other side of the house. Yet, even then, we could sometimes hear Mom’s TV.

Our son solved that potential problem by finding these TV headphones. My mother, who was resistant to any headphones, likes these.  Her TV can be on mute, but with her headphones on, she can hear it perfectly. 

Unfortunately, I do have to help her set them up, because the controls are small, and hard for her to see.

With a push of a button, they also double as hearing aids.  Mom needs hearing aids, but she refused to get them, and now, I think she is too old to adjust to hearing aids. Yet with these, if I want to have a conversation with her without me having to yell, I can. And when our son and his wife have Sunday dinner here, Mom can be part of the conversation.

Apple Watch

When caring for your parent there will undoubtably be medications to administer. For me, Mom takes medication four times a day. So I don’t forget, I have timers set on my Apple Watch. I work at home, so when I get lost in my work, the watch’s alarm ensures I don’t forget to give Mom her needed medication. 

TMI (Too much information)

This last tip is a bit personal, and Mom would probably die of embarrassment, but it must be said, because it is one of my favorites, and if you plan to care for a parent, it is something you will undoubtably have to deal with.  The tip—get a bidet. Yes, you will probably have to run the controls, but trust me, it is better than doing the task manually. And if you are not familiar with a bidet, I suggest you get one for yourself and learn how to use it before you instruct your parent on how it works.

So those are my five tips for now. Do you have any to share?

7 comments on “Caring for an elderly parent…

  1. Kish

    What great information! Unfortunately too late for me to use with my parents but passing on for others. Thnx!

  2. Susan

    God bless you Bobbi It’s a hard job. I wish I had someone like you sharing tips when my husband had a stroke. I managed but it took a lot of research to find things to help make it manageable. I ended up paying Visiting Angels to come by three times a week to help my husband shower. The nursing homes in my area is not good and I could not with a clear conscious leave him there. I managed till he passed away.

    1. Bobbi Holmes Post author

      I’m so sorry. I suspect there is help out there….the trick is finding out where! My daughter-in-law, who works for a doctor, just told me how to apply for a wheelchair through Medicare. So hopefully Mom will get one soon.

  3. DEANA A MANNS

    Dear Bobbie, I too take care of my 92-year old Dad. My sister and I moved him in with us about 4 weeks ago. He has severe dementia and poor hearing. He was living alone in his own home and wasn’t eating nor taking his medications. He stands 6′ 1″ and weighed 139 lbs. I’m sure he weighs more now because we feed him and make him drink coffee, water and chocolate shakes.

    I put up a sign in the front room that tells him what day it is. I get him showered once a week and had to put signs on his dresser drawers as to where clean underwear, socks and shirts could be found. We leave him alone at home only when we need to go get groceries. I also have to check his blood once a week because he is on warfarin…Coumadin.

    I mostly take him to doctor appointments and I have a binder that I keep all his important information in. I had my name added as a joint owner on his bank account for paying bills. His handwriting is so shakey that it is difficult to read. The very important thing I have yet to do is get a Durable Power of Attorney. With his dementia, he can’t remember a thing!!

    I took care of our Mom for years before she died. I was her Hospice, too. It isn’t easy to be a parent’s caregiver. But I wouldn’t stick him in a nursing home!

    Good luck with your Mother!! God bless you!!

    Deana Manns, Centralia, Illinois

  4. debra KicD

    Don and I are currently caring for Don’s 89 yr old mother and 92 yr old father. It is interesting how we adapt to their daily needs. We come up with some creative ideas when problem solving. I like the headset idea for TV watching. I think we will have to get one for mom. She is hard of earing and has the TV up so loud all the time. When with a group of people she will withdraw from conversations. I know it is frustrating for her. Just like your mom, she has refused hearing aids and now it’s too late. I am hopeful she will accept and use the headset . Thanks for sharing.

    PS. I did buy a bidet back when toilet paper was getting difficult to fine. I never did install it but maybe it’s time to. LOL!

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