Never allow them to feel like a burden on you by mocking their poor health or their dependency on you.

Having elderly family members at home can be quite comforting for young couples and a nurturing experience for the children. Their worldly wisdom and unconditional support can help keep the family together through rough times. However, it is important to understand that besides relying on them for moral support, one must offer them the emotional and medical attention suitable to their age. This is applicable even to the elderly parent who is healthy and active.


Tips for taking care of the elderly at home


#1 Understand their needs


Some elders are self-sufficient despite their age. They can conduct all their daily activities and help around the house as well. However, there are some who may need help with certain activities such as climbing up and down the stairs, reading, and bathing or they may just need regular reminders to take their medication. Each elderly person needs to be treated differently and cared for according to their physical and mental condition.

Communication is key.

  • – Talk to them to understand their needs.
  • – Pay attention to them.
  • – Respect their opinions and advice.
  • – Understand their concerns.
  • – Offer solutions that they are comfortable with.

#2 Treat them with respect and dignity.


Not everyone ages as gracefully as they want to. Never allow them to feel like a burden on you by mocking their poor health or their dependency on you. Some elderly individuals may need more care than others. They may not be able to move on their own or take care of their personal needs. Their adult children must understand that stress and emotional struggle elderly parents go through because of disabilities brought on by age and weakness.

What they need most is love and care.

  • – Spend time with them.
  • – Take an extra interest in their health and happiness.
  • – Help them take on a hobby to relax.
  • – Encourage them to exercise to regain their health.
  • – Never make them feel like a burden.

#3 Make visits to the doctor mandatory.


A geriatrician is a doctor who specializes in the care and treatment of the elderly. Dr. Kamakshi Memorial Hospital offers geriatric services through Dr. K Eldercare, where doctors make house calls on patients who cannot come to the hospital. Ensure that your parent has a routine complete health check-up at least once a year or as recommended by the doctor. They need not have diabetes or hypertension for you to get them checked periodically. Check with the doctor on what tests need to be done and how often, to ensure their health is on track.

  • – Do not delay or miss routine visits to the doctor.
  • – Have emergency phone numbers handy.
  • – Monitor blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels as directed by the doctor.
  • – Do not ignore symptoms such as dizzy spells, frequent headaches, persistent coughs, palpitations, breathing difficulty or vision trouble.
  • – Register with a geriatric service such as Dr K Elder Care for expert care.

#4 Check their medication


After a certain age taking health supplements along with medications for underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or hypertension becomes the new normal for everyone. It is important to take these medications diligently as instructed by the doctor. Often aged parents tend to take these daily meds for granted and forget to stock up when they run out.

Caregivers must ensure they have all the medication they need and that they take them regularly.

  • – Educate yourself on the uses of the various medications your parents are taking.
  • – Understand the repercussion of missed doses.
  • – Make a medication schedule and follow up with your parent to make he/she is sticking to the schedule.
  • – Make sure your parent has enough of each medication and never runs short.
  • – Before restocking on routine medication check with the doctor in case the dosage needs to be changed.
  • – If your parent has any serious health conditions, do not give the over-the-counter medication without talking to their doctor.

#5 Hire help if needed


Working adults may not be able to spend time with their aged parents. If the elderly parents are able an active, you may not need to hire a caretaker to look after them in your absence. However, if the parent is ill, bedridden, or has a condition like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s that affect the body and mind, someone should always be around to watch over them. In such cases hiring a trained nurse or helper will put your mind at ease. Looking after a sick loved one can also be physically and emotionally draining. If you do not have siblings to share the responsibility of taking care of your parents, there is no harm in hiring a caretaker.

  • – Do a thorough background check of the organisation providing home care services.
  • – Take time to see how the hired caretaker interacts with your parent.
  • – Give him/her all information on your parent’s condition and the medication schedule.
  • – Talk to your parent and get feedback on the caretaker.
  • – Instal surveillance cameras that can are connected to your mobile phone, to keep a check on your parent.

#6 Encourage them to be active.


Weakness is a main side effect of ageing. The body tires easily and if you give in, you will end up staying indoors resting all day. This will lead to weight gain and unnecessary health complications. Hence, exercise is of extreme importance even to the elderly.

  • – Encourage your parents to go outdoors for a walk.
  • – Do not push them to workout harder or longer. They need to be functionally fit and do not need to sport a six-pack.
  • – Discuss with their geriatrician on what kinds of physical activity is suited for their age.
  • – Enrol them in senior citizen programs that help them stay active and to socialize.
  • – The mind also needs to stay sharp. Get them to read and work out simple puzzles to keep their mind active and fit.

#7 Provide them with healthy food.


Older people are prone to digestive problems because the aged body processes and digests food differently. As a result, some elderly folks need to be on a strict diet. Similarly, those with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or some other conditions need to watch what they eat. As their caregiver, it is up to you to ensure they eat right.

  • – Consult with a geriatrician and a dietitian on what food your parents can have.
  • – Steer clear of food groups and ingredients that the doctor prohibits.
  • – Ask the dietitian to draw up a meal schedule for your parents.
  • – Make sure they eat on time, and they eat enough.
  • – Encourage them to drink fluids and stay hydrated.
  • – Avoid junk food and fried snacks – they irritate the stomach.
  • – Remember that light nutritious meals are easy on their digestive system.

#8 Make changes around your home for their safety.


Your home needs to be assessed to find out what safety measures need to be taken to make it suitable for an elderly person to live in. There are some modifications that need to be adopted to make your home a safe haven for your elderly parents.

  • – Instal ramps if your parent uses a wheelchair or walker.
  • – Instal a raised toilet and an adjacent handrail to help them sit and get up with ease.
  • – Fix non-skid mats in the bathroom and around the wash basin to prevent slippery floors.
  • – Make sure the house is sufficiently lit.
  • – Installing motion sensor nightlights around the house is a clever idea.
  • – Keep your home organised and neat, to prevent falls from tripping over random objects.
  • – Find ways to keep cables and other wires off the floor and out of the way.

Taking care of your parents when they are old is your duty. Do it with a smile and do it right.


Dr. Priyanka Rana Patgiri is a Geriatrics
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