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Caring for Elderly Relatives in their Own Home

Do you find yourself in a situation of having to care for elderly relatives in their own home? Whether the person is on their own, male, female or in a couple, the following tips might prove helpful. Here at Vermont Aged Care we appreciate that people would prefer to remain in their own home for as long as possible. As long as this is not a crisis.

The current situation

Mum or dad, or both of them, are getting older but still enjoying living in their own home. Maybe you can see they need a bit of help. However, you want to help them each step of the way towards old-age. You love them and you don’t want them to hurt themselves by falling. Also, you want to make sure they are getting proper nutrition and hydration. Furthermore, medication sometimes comes into their lives more than in the past. You are wondering how best to address all these issues.

The conversation

The first step has to be a nice chat, with you being careful to be very diplomatic. After all, they are elderly adults. You don’t want them to think you’re taking over their lives and giving them orders! You could begin by just mentioning a few little things you’ve noticed that are of concern to you. A new frailty that was not there previously. A medical condition that has arisen recently. Perhaps it might be forgetting to take medication occasionally. Or, they themselves mentioning that they need a bit of help.

Professional help

With their permission, make an appointment with their doctor. It would be a good idea for all concerned to go in together. A good check up, a conversation and you will all be on the same page. This will make the new journey together much easier.

The practicalities

Begin by going through their home with them. Would things such as handrails or a stairlift be helpful? Perhaps the home needs a few modifications. For example, some cupboards may now be too high for them. Climbing can result in unnecessary falls. Is the lighting in the home still suitable for an elderly person? Do they need help with cleaning? Is cooking becoming too great a burden? A telephone call to the local council will provide information about availability and costs. Now is the time to find out if they are eligible for financial assistance from the government. Otherwise, perhaps the family can contribute some funds. Furthermore, the council will have information about social care and volunteer groups for elderly folks in their area. You will find the government willing to help in many more areas today due to an ageing population.

Health and related matters

If your elderly loved one is not taking a lot of medication, a reminder list may be sufficient. Placed strategically, perhaps on the refrigerator door, it might suffice. Otherwise, should they need to take a bit more complex medication, it might be wise to telephone everyday, just to check. It would give you both peace of mind. Not to mention an opportunity for a lovely chat. Remember compartmentalised pillboxes with the daily dosage. Also, look into the many options available in the form of alarm and security devices. Some are worn around the neck or the wrist. Some connect with companies. They will send somebody around immediately; faster than you could get there perhaps.

Use a visit as an opportunity to review their wardrobe. Ask them if arthritis is making closures difficult, buttons and the such. Modern materials such as cotton/elastane blends are so much more comfortable for the elderly. Similarly, elasticated waists in place of zippers and buttons make dressing and undressing a pleasure renewed. This might lead to the necessity of purchasing some more practical and comfortable garments and shoes. Also providing the opportunity for a happy shopping day, with a pause for lunch and coffee.

Dealing with distance and loneliness

Distance and loneliness need to be addressed. Otherwise, you may feel guilty if your elderly loved one is lonely. However, you may be very busy yourself. Perhaps with your own family to care for. Or you may be employed. There are lots of ways to address this problem today thanks to technology.  The telephone and letters are no longer the only means of communication. Skype, email, mobile phones and computers allow people to keep in touch easily. Once again, if that is a little expensive for your loved one, Christmas, parents’ days and birthdays will present an opportunity for gifting. Fortunately devices are becoming easier to learn these days. So with a little patience and tuition mum and dad will soon be typing and Skypeing away happily.

However, if loneliness is a bigger problem, enquire whether some kind neighbours with time on their hands might help. Perhaps they enjoy cards or board games too. Also, a lot of people love gardening and that might become a shared joy. If your loved one can no longer drive, once again a neighbour might be happy to help. Shopping online is so common now, you can probably place orders for them for home deliveries.


Try to visit as often as you can, because nothing can replace a hug and kiss and a shared cup of tea. Also, this will be very helpful in assessing your loved one’s condition. You will very quickly notice if there is any deterioration in their health. Or any new problems arising. If your children are grown up enough to travel alone ask them to drop in on grandma or granddad as often as possible. Remind them that they won’t have them forever.

Finally, there are both church and government run day centres. They are usually free. These provide activities such as crafts, games, music and singing. Some offer guest speakers on topics of common interest; gardening, finances and many more. Meals are taken in very convivial atmospheres. Added to that, the commonality of age gives the elderly so much pleasure. They can talk about the same things through experience, and not risk boring each other, many of their memories covering the same time period! Transport Is usually offered removing that barrier. Also, today exercise classes are offered as we learn the importance of keeping moving for health.

The happier they are the less you will worry about them. And that will be good for everybody.

This blog is intended to provide helpful advice. Please speak with your family GP for personalised information. Or, for specialist advice & support in Melbourne Australia, please contact VERMONT AGED CARE:

770 Canterbury Road, Vermont, Victoria, Australia 3133

Phone: +61 03-9873 5300. Email:

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