Those who choose to look after their parents at home take on a great deal of responsibility. It is a great relief for those in need of care to be able to stay in their familiar surroundings or to be able to move in with a child. In order for parenting care to work within your own four walls, you need to be aware of the challenges and changes that lie ahead.
Caring for your parents at home – what can you expect?
Around two thirds of those in need of care are cared for at home – by family carers, professional caregivers and with the help of outpatient care services. Regular contact with family, relatives and neighbors gives your parents the feeling that they belong in spite of physical infirmities and possibly limited mental performance.
For the children, care at home is a great physical and psychological challenge. Much depends on how much the parents need care. If mobility is severely restricted, the burden is higher. Good organization is necessary to get family, work and parental care under one roof. In addition to caring for the parents, there are also house and garden work to be done. The preparation of meals, visits to the doctor and hairdresser as well as common leisure activities all take up a lot of time.
Children who care for their parents wonder whether what they do for their parents is enough. Conversely, parents do not want to be a burden on their children and do not dare to express their needs openly. It is important that your own parents retain the maximum degree of independence. It is necessary to change old habits. At times, this can be a painful process.
From the bathroom to the stair lift – renovation work and purchases
Regardless of whether the parents’ need for care is announced over a longer period of time or an acute need for care occurs, it is a shock. If you have worked through in your mind beforehand which spatial and structural changes are necessary, you are well prepared. In many cases, the traffic routes within the apartment are too narrow for a rollator or wheelchair. This can be remedied by moving furniture, converting rooms and making structural changes. A stair lifter provides valuable help.
Many people in need of care have problems with their legs. One of the most common remodeling measures concerns the bathroom. A walk-in shower with seating, grab bars and a walk-in bathtub are some of the equipment elements that an age-appropriate bathroom must meet. If the parents are able to prepare their own meals, a seated workstation in the kitchen is important in order to avoid long standing times when preparing the individual ingredients.
In a classically built house, it is not always possible to completely avoid climbing stairs. If your parents are no longer able to climb stairs on their own, a stairlift is a practical solution. A stair lifter for indoor or outdoor stairs increases the range of motion and helps prevent falls. Even people who are severely restricted in their mobility and wheelchair users can use a stair lift. Modern stair lifters are able to cope with steep climbs and curved stairs safely and reliably. The following questions must be answered in advance, with a specialist at your side:
- Do you need an indoor or outdoor lift?
- How many floors should the stairlift climb?
- Should the indoor or outdoor lift have special features?
- Are the stairs straight or curvy?
- What is the angle of inclination of the stairs?
- What is the budget for purchasing an indoor or outdoor lift?
An important point is the constant availability. A house alarm, which is connected to an ambulance control center and can be notified via a wristband, ensures a feeling of comfort. If you are not at home, your parents can call for help on their own in an emergency. A good addition to the house alarm is a mobile phone suitable for senior citizens, in which you can save all important telephone numbers in advance.
What financial support will you help?
If family and friends are neglected as a result of caregiving, there is a risk of unexpected conflicts. Right from the start, you should make use of all assistance that you are legally entitled to and that help to relieve you. How much money and aids a parent in need of care receives from long-term care insurance depends on the level of care your parents give. There are a total of 5 levels of care. The need for care is determined by an expert who examines the following areas of life in detail and assesses them according to a point system:
- The mobility
- The ability to be self-sufficient
- Behaviors and psychological problems
- Communicative and intellectual skills
- Dealing with stress and illness
- The existing social contacts and the organization of everyday life
If you do not agree to the definition of the level of care, you can lodge an objection with the care fund. Your parents in need of care have the choice between a care benefit in kind, i.e. care by a professional nursing service, and a cash benefit. Your parents can send you this – in the form of a care allowance – as financial recognition for care at home.
For the age-appropriate renovation of a bathroom and toilet, there is support from the KfW Bank (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau) through the “Age-Appropriate Building” funding program. The maximum amount is 5,000 euros with 50,000 euros of eligible investment. The subsidy is higher if a complete residential unit is made barrier-free and age-appropriate. It is a maximum of 6,250 euros or 12.5 percent of 50,000 euros of eligible investment. The long-term care insurance also grants subsidies to improve the living environment and for care aids up to a maximum of 4,000 euros per measure. Individual aids – such as a rollator – are approved by the health insurance company according to a prescription by a doctor.
Care for parents at home with professional help
If you choose to take care of your parents at home, you must be aware of the far-reaching consequences. Conversion measures such as installing a stair lift or redesigning the bathroom make your life easier. The maintenance itself takes a lot of time and there are a number of bureaucratic hurdles to overcome. Get professional help on board, for example from a nursing service, so you don’t run the risk of being overwhelmed with the care.
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