With a large segment of the population approaching or well into their retirement years, a growing number of adult children are now finding themselves dealing with concerns about an elderly parent's health and safety, especially if the parent is living alone. In fact, according to a recently compiled study on seniors aged sixty and above, approximately ninety percent of those polled expressed their intent to continue living in their own homes for at least the next five to ten years. Unfortunately, this figure likely includes seniors who may lack the funds or physical abilities to properly maintain a home of their own. For the adult child dealing with an elderly parent whose living situation is becoming unsafe or unhealthy due to the condition of their home, this insistence on maintaining their independence can be difficult to address without damaging the relationship. If you have an elderly parent or other relative whose home is in need of repairs or updating and are wondering how to help in a way that they will accept and welcome, the following ideas just might help!
Encourage them explore the potential benefits of downsizing
One of the first options to consider when elderly parents are having difficulties with maintaining their home is to determine if downsizing into a smaller home might be a workable solution. Be sure to discuss the possibility in a positive manner, explaining all the benefits, such as the potential for lower property taxes, insurance and upkeep. If your parents have lived in their current home for many years, however, be prepared for the fact that they may vehemently oppose any possibility of moving away from dear friends and neighbors.
Use holiday & birthday gifting as a way to deal with routine chores and maintenance
If downsizing is a non-starter, consider finding ways to provide assistance with routine chores and maintenance in a low-key fashion. This can be easily done by replacing normal gifting routines with services that your parents really need, but may not be able to afford. These might include:
- hiring a lawn service to cut the yard each week and trim bushes and landscaping, as needed (have the billing sent directly to you to eliminate any protests from your parents)
- putting a neighborhood teenager on a "service retainer" to attend to jobs like raking leaves in the fall, weeding the garden, washing the car or shoveling snow on an as-needed basis (have the teen email invoices with before and after photos of any work done)
- hiring a cleaning service to visit once a week and handle floor care and other heavier cleaning jobs that may be difficult for elderly parents to handle (as with the other services, have the cleaning company bill you directly and also ask that they report any home condition issues they feel need to be addressed)
Gather the siblings for an annual work day
If your elderly parent's interior living spaces are dilapidated and in need of a real update, consider gathering your siblings and family friends and planning a surprise, but in-depth, work day at your parents home. Get your parents out of the way by pre-arranging an outing for them with a neighbor or friend for the entire day. Plan carefully, draft plenty of relatives to help, and book necessary contracting services to handle some of the work so that you can make a substantial improvement in their home in a single day.
As a special surprise, use this opportunity to also give the home a brighter, fresher look by booking an interior painting company like M.S. Service Inc. to meet you at the home, primed with with paint and supplies. You and your siblings can move furnishings and prepare each room, allowing the painters to follow behind, making it possible to paint several rooms in a single day. Since your parents will be returning at the end of the day, make sure to choose paint that has low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to limit their exposure to fumes that might cause them to feel unwell.