How to Help Aging Parents Stay in Their Home

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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 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.


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.

And speaking of helping our parents – what sort of financial support should we provide our parents?
Compare to helping them stay in their homes, ongoing financial support is a much tougher issue to address. After all, remodeling a home is expensive but it’s still likely just a one time expense. How will you approach this if you had to choose?

How Would I?

My parents provided everything for me any parent could possibly think of growing up. Our family wasn’t financially rich in any stretch of the imagination, but as a kid, I didn’t have a clue. School trips? Sign me up. Car rides home? Every single day. Fancy lunch boxes? You mean mine?

I didn’t get everything just because I knew how to say “I want” of course. I begged, screamed, and probably said a ton of hurtful comments for a good half a decade because I wanted a car with a manual transmission. It went nowhere, but in general, I never felt deprived.

I was loved like no other, and the reality is that much of all the acts of affection cost my parents money. Money to shop, money for vacations, and money to use for their own retirement.

Do You Offer Help to Your Parents?

When it’s your children, the decision to take care of them before they are able to provide for themselves is easy to make. I’d argue that if your parents are struggling financially, the offer to help them out financially is also trivial. After all, they probably spent years sacrificing just to make sure you grew up happily and without worry.

But what if your parents seemed fine on their own? How much (if anything) do you offer then?

Based on several impromptu and general discussions, my parents have solid finances. Sure, there is always a more luxurious zip code to live in or a fancier car to own, but there are no worries of meeting basic needs. For the most part, my parents don’t need my help, but it’s time to offer. I mean, if it wasn’t for my existence, my parents might very well already be living in that more luxurious zip code and driving that fancy car.

But how much? I’m young, and good times don’t always last forever. Just as parents don’t want to provide their children with too much because it sets them up for failure, does the same hold true in the other direction? If I start offering substantial financial support to my parents and it indirectly inflates their lifestyle, am I the person to blame if, down the road, I can no longer afford the same support and higher expenses?

Of course, much of this boils down to my own unique circumstance. The amount of support in question, the dependability of my income, and the type of people my parents are will all be factors in the outcome.

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

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  • Joe on the Move says:

    Good tip about using technology to help. I installed a camera at my parent’s home and while most people use it to check for robbers, I’m using it to check on my parents.

    • David @ says:

      Good use of a camera. You just never know when you’ll need to see what’s going on, so it’s a great idea that you are installing one before anything happens.

  • Paula says:

    Helping your parents go way beyond monetary assistance. Your love and company are probably the most important. On a more practical level, you can at least help them buy groceries these days!

    • David @ says:

      Grocery runs are a bare minimum. Then again, I bet many parents want to get out there ASAP because no one wants to be stuck at home.

      We were able to go to the beach with the kids yesterday and that was soooooooooooooooo nice. And I’m not even a beach person!

  • Jackie | Concord NH Assisted Living says:

    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.

  • Rachel Adelson says:

    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).

  • Jose says:

    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.

  • Marbella says:

    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.

  • Daisy @ Everything Finance says:

    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).

    • Robert says:

      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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