5 tips for supporting elderly parents transition into care – Showerbuddy

5 tips for supporting elderly parents transition into care

5 tips for supporting elderly parents transition into care

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Helping an elderly parent get the extra help they need to get by can feel like a daunting experience. In many cases the decision to engage home care has been made by multiple family members, and your parent isn’t always leading that decision.
In order to keep them safe and happy, however, getting extra help is simply required. In this article we offer 5 tips for helping the transition.

1. Introduce care practices into the current living situation before moving

Imagine having taken care of yourself independently for 60+ years and then moving to having reliance on someone else for daily tasks. This transition, if sudden and without appropriate preparation can be really jarring for our elderly parents. If care includes moving home to a senior living facility where there’s a new routine for everything it’s easy to naturally be adverse to such a move. And if care involves being at home but with a heavy amount of professional home care, there can still be reluctance to let this help in.
If you’re in a situation where the best course of action for your elderly parent is to move them into a managed care facility or a retirement community (i.e. own home but daily services to manage cleaning, cooking etc), then you should strongly consider introducing home help before making the move out of their family home.


There are a few areas that you may wish to start – ultimately you should get advice from your parent’s GP as to the best in-home help to start with. For many families this comes in the form of a cleaner – a job that requires significant mental exertion and takes a long time to complete. Cleaning also comes with many hazards for an elderly person with reduced mobility, strength and vision. A cleaner is also a relatively gentle introduction to home help as they are a fixture of many households – mobility challenges or not.

The next stage might be someone (could be a family member) who comes and brings meals or prepares them in the home. If you’ve got a parent who’s a keen cook, this can be somewhat of an adjustment and warrants an open conversation about the physical requirements of cooking (hand-eye coordination, dexterity, ability to avoid falls and slips near the stove etc). This assistance with meals and cleaning can start to relieve the pressure from your elderly parents who can instead focus on other activities they enjoy, safely.

Along with these at home chores, you’ll want to explore closely the matter of personal transport. Giving up driving is a huge deal as it represents the loss of completely independent movement for many of our senior community. Even still, there is the safety of both your parent and the wider community when it comes to driving on the public roads with degrading motor skills.

Transitioning away from driving oneself to the supermarket, visiting friends or going to the beach might be a matter of steps. First, you may wish to have family members share the duty of giving lifts to your parents. Once they’ve become comfortable with this, it may be worth introducing travel services specifically for the elderly community. This is a good step towards trusting non-family services; of which they’ll be depending on in a senior care setting.

2. Keep your parent involved in decision making as much as possible

The move from independent living to professional care – whatever form that may take, is something that totally changes your parent’s lifestyle. It’s not a decision that’s yours to make alone, unless they are of a certain state of mind that their doctor advises you to act on their behalf.
Ideally the decision around whether to get senior care in place, and indeed, to what degree, should be ultimately made by your parent with your support. If your parent feels like they are being pushed into making a decision they don’t like, it can cause bigger issues later on.


Try to have these discussions well before the time at which they need to be moved into a care facility or similar. This is sometimes really difficult as mobility impairments don’t always develop slowly or gradually. Regardless of the time frame, if you’re able to have your parent as part of the decision making themselves, the solution around care has a better chance of garnering good results long term.

In any of these situations however, you should always proceed with the health of your parent’s medical providers (such as a GP), as they are best placed to provide you with accurate, professional advice on the best support needed.

3. Research assistive technology to handle tasks

The reliance upon equipment to get things done is typically less of a mental hurdle for the independent-minded parent to get past than another person doing these tasks. Consider the opening of a jar or putting a shoe on – are there options for doing the tricky parts of these actions without asking a carer?

The evolution of assistive equipment has meant that homes are better suited for someone without the ability to manage them on their own. Even technology designed for a broad audience like smart home products can create more autonomy for your loved one.

This may include:

  • Voice activated controls for blinds, lighting, heating and cooling.
  • Wifi controlled cooking and cleaning appliances (reducing manual movements)
  • Communication devices with accessibility functions including voice commands.

4. Do your research and interview multiple home care options

Research is so important when it comes to home care for your elderly parent. There isn’t one way of approaching this so it pays to spend some time exploring all the options.
Visit as many available care facilities as you can, but also look into the practicalities of staying in the family home with external care. You may find a vast range of options and prices on which to make your decision. We’d suggest keeping a spreadsheet or other document of all the options so as a family you can review these together to make a decision.


Interviewing home care professionals as well as potential facilities is as much about determining the services provided as it is about the people running them. Eldery care is such a people-based service that you need to be confident your parent is going to be well suited to the people interacting with them regularly. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions and empower your parent to ask as many questions as they have too.

5. Consider how family contributes to the weekly care plan

For many families with an elderly parent that needs care, it makes the most sense to combine professional care with family support. This can help give your elderly parent more comfort knowing that the people they trust the most are going to be interacting with them regularly and help them to do things they may be less comfortable asking a professional caregiver to do.
Committing family to supporting an elderly member needs to be done so with the full understanding of what’s involved and what’s expected of them each week. Avoid over committing anyone and try to balance these duties with professional care in a way that’s most complementary to each other. It’s not uncommon for adult children to over commit inadvertently to the level of support they can provide, only to find maintaining such an arrangement hard amongst other life commitments.


As always, it’s a good idea to work closely with doctors, occupational therapists and professional caregivers to work out a good plan for family involvement.

Further reading on the topic

Enjoyed this article? You may be interested in these resources online:

The information in this article is intended as general information only and is not a replacement for official health guidance by your local medical providers. Please always consult an occupational therapist and/or local healthcare for more specific guidance.