How to Help Your Aging Parents Stay in Their Home

by Emily Guy Birken · 6 comments

Elderly couple at home

You’ve noticed lately that Mom and Dad are starting to show signs of aging. Cobwebs and dust may be appearing in the previously spotless living room, or they’ve been forgetting things like appointments and medication. But your parents adamantly refuse to even consider moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home.

According to the AARP, nearly 42 million Americans are caring for their elderly parents, and many of them are facing a similar dilemma. Keeping your parents living safely at home isn’t going to be cheap, but it’ll likely be less expensive than an assisted living facility, which costs around $36,000 per year, or a nursing home, which costs around $77,000 per year for a private room.

Here’s what you can expect financially from helping your parents stay in their home:

Modifications to the House

In many cases, Mom and Dad don’t have the mobility they once enjoyed, and everything from stairs to showers offers potential hazards. While full remodels of a house are anything but cheap, adding or modifying a home in order to make it more senior-friendly can be done relatively inexpensively.

According to Forbes, the most common modifications include “hand railings, grab bars and lighting, as well as access and easy entry into bathrooms. Other common home modifications involve changing the entry and exit from a home or accessing a second floor.”

The average cost for making full-scale modifications, including the installation of extra railings, widening or adapting entrances, and adding items like stair chairs, generally runs between $20,000 and $40,000.

Hired Help

The other half of helping your parents remain in their home is making certain that they have whatever help they need to maintain basic living standards. If your parents need help with personal care, like dressing or bathing, then you’ll absolutely need to have someone come to help out daily. Even if they’re still handling their own grooming and dressing well, they may still need help with household activities like cooking, home maintenance, and errands.

In-home care can range anywhere from $14-$24 per hour. Depending on how often your parents need a helping hand, this can be an affordable option. The best bet is to find out what the going rate is for in-home care in your area, and then calculate the monthly cost.

Technology

One last way of keeping Mom and Dad safe at home is through the judicious use of technology. With everything from digital pillboxes (that remind users when they’ve missed their medication) to wearable motion sensors that can alert you (and potentially 911) when the wearer falls, modern technology offers new ways to fix old problems.

Purchasing these sorts of gadgets can be an inexpensive way to help your parents be safer at home.

The Bottom Line

Most seniors desperately want to remain in their homes. Who can blame them? Finding an affordable way to make that happen is possible. Just make sure you and your parents have honest conversations about your finances and their changing needs.

Have you had experience with aging parents? What have you found to be the best solution?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Daisy @ Everything Finance January 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm

My parents are still far from us even having to think about this. That being said, I do have concerns about my dad and the financial impact that he might have for us. He has not even a dime saved for his retirement and he’s in his late fifties (with no plans of starting to save). I don’t know how he will plan to keep his house even if he can stay in it (I suspect he’ll eventually move in with us).

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Robert January 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Daisy, you seem to have a realistic grasp of the situation. Have you shared this with your spouse? My mother-in-law came to stay with us for about 6 months when she had some health problems. We adapted by giving her our son’s room and he slept on the couch. It worked for us because we all knew it was short-term. We would have to make many more changes for a longer term. We did this because my wife and I made a plan beforehand. You might be wise to do the same. Also, you might ask your father what he would do if one or both of his parents came to live with him?

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Marbella January 20, 2013 at 1:02 am

In Sweden, you get paid by the government if you take care of your parents in old age. They can samtigt help with babysitting, schoolwork, etc.

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Jose January 21, 2013 at 6:57 am

One key thing that should be considered when caring for elderly parents is Estate Planning. We waited far too long with my parents and my brother and I are now scrambling to catch up and protect their investments and properties. I know we have a long road to go on this and I’m planning a trip next month to Florida to meet with a lawyer so we can finalize my parents estate plans.

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Rachel Adelson January 21, 2013 at 10:23 am

People sometimes think adapting their homes will be too costly or overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. People can make small changes gradually as their abilities change, and they – with help from their grown kids if need be – can research the actual local costs of adding or modifying fixed elements in the house or condo. There’s a cost to aging because there’s a cost to living, but sometimes it’s cheaper to adapt one’s home than move somewhere else. And there are a lot of resources available to outline the options (including my own new book just coming out, Staying Power: Age-Proof Your Home for Comfort, Safety and Style).

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Jackie | Concord NH Assisted Living March 27, 2014 at 12:22 pm

It’s no easy task to take care of your parents as they get older, and it’s important that they are able to live in comfort and peace. This often means at their own home. With the help of assisted living caregivers they can certainly have this luxury, and can benefit from the extra helping hand from time to time. I would definitely recommend Home Instead Senior Care for their in-home assisted living services.

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