How to help an aging parent grow old at home

The first step is to talk to your parent and his/her doctor about any medical conditions that may make it difficult to take care of themselves and/or their spouse on their own in the short and long run. It may be that your aging parent may only need a little bit of help here and there – such as getting dressed in the morning, shopping, cooking, being reminded to take their medicine – in order to remain living pretty much independently at home. You may have other responsibilities – work, family – that preclude you from lending a hand yourself (or maybe you’re a long distance caregiver), but you can resort to the following alternatives to cover your parent’s needs. Some of them may cost you, but in the long-term this disbursement may be more cost-efficient than making the move to a long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Services to help an aging parent grow old at home

·         Personal care

Perhaps a friend or another family member – or failing that a paid aide – can help your parent bathe, wash their hair, or get dressed.

·         Homemaking

Cleaning services or a housekeeper may be able to help with housecleaning, yard work, grocery shopping, or the laundry.


·         Meals

A local senior center, religious group, or meal delivery program such as Meals on Wheels may deliver nutritious meals to your parent’s domicile. Whenever you’re able, take them out for lunch or dinner.





·         Finances

Even from a distance, you can help your aging parent sort bills and health insurance claims out. Additionally, volunteers, financial counselors, or geriatric care managers are available. You can arrange for your bank to automatically pay utilites and rent or mortgage as well.

Instruct your parent never to give their Social Security number, credit card, account number, or bank account number to anyone who calls or sends an e-mail, which could be a scam.

Discuss the possibility of your parent giving you legal permission – a durable power of attorney – to handle their legal matters and speak on your behalf with creditors and Social Security, or Medicare agencies.




·         Healthcare

Get your parent a pill reminder to help them take their medications at the same time every day. Accompany your parent to their doctor’s appointments and write down the doctor’s order for your parent to remember later on.

Discuss the possibility of your parent naming you as a healthcare proxy – through a durable power of attorney for healthcare – to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if a medical condition renders them unable to make their own decisions.


Products to help an aging parent grow old at home



·         Getting around

A walker, electric wheelchair, or scooter may help your parent move around in and out of the house. Volunteer escort services may be available to accompany your parent to the doctor or go shopping with them. If your parent is no longer able to drive a car, consider public transportation or have yourself, a relative or a friend drive them around.


·         Socializing

A local senior center may provide activities and people – new and familiar – to socialize with. Conversely, search for volunteer groups like “Friendly Visitors,” “Senior Volunteers,” or “Senior Companions,” who may be able to drop by your parent’s house once a week.


·         Safety

Set up an emergency system in your parent’s house so that may summon medical personnel by pushing a button. Call the local Area Agency on Aging if you’re worried that your parent may become the victim of crime in the neighborhood, physical abuse, or a financial scam.


·         Housing

Consider installing ramps, grab bars, non-skid floors, improved insulation, etc. in your parent’s house. The local or State Area Agency on Aging, State housing finance agency, welfare department, community development groups, or the Federal Government may help you afford these modifications. 


People to help an aging parent grow old at home

·         Acquaintances

Relatives, friends, and neighbors can be a useful and readily accessible source of help for your parent.

·         Community and local government resources


Doctors, social workers, and the clergy may be able to direct you to services for elderly people available in your community


·         Geriatric care managers

These professionals specially trained to help aging individuals and their families ways to simplify their lives. They can come up with long-term care plans and find needed services. They are especially helpful to long-distance caregivers, but charge a fee that is probably not covered by most insurance plans.


Additional resources






·         Administration on Aging
Washington, DC 20201

·         Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Benefits Administration
Veterans Health Administration
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420

VA benefits:
1-800-827-1000 (toll-free)
1-800-829-4833 (TDD/toll-free)

To speak with a healthcare benefits counselor:
1-877-222-8387 (toll-free)

·         Eldercare Locator
1-800-677-1116 (toll-free)

·         Federal and State Government Benefit Information
1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636/toll-free)

·         Medicare
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21244-1850
1-800-633-4227 (toll-free)

·         USA.Gov for Seniors



·         Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410
1-202-708-1455 (TTY)

·         Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
National Energy Assistance Referral Hotline (NEAR)
1-866-674-6327 (toll-free)
1-866-367-6228 (TTY/toll-free)

·         National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification
3715 McClintock Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0191

·         Rebuilding Together
1899 L Street, NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
1-800-473-4229 (toll-free)

·         LeadingAge
2519 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008-1520

·         National Adult Day Services Association
1421 East Broad Street
Suite 425
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526
1-877-745-1440 (toll-free)

·         National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
Suite 130
Tucson, AZ 85741-2198