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Aging in Place: How to Care for Elderly Parents at Home

Written by Melissa Lee
12 minute readLast updated February 14, 2023
Reviewed by Carol Bradley BursackAuthor Carol Bradley Bursack spent two decades as a primary caregiver to seven elders and is also a newspaper columnist, blogger, and aging expert.
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As the majority of older Americans now wish to remain in their homes as they age, a cultural shift toward aging in place has begun in the U.S. When your loved one expresses their desire to stay at home, you’re probably worried about helping them age safely with dignity and preserved quality of life. With proper planning, care, and support, you can help your loved one live at home for longer, and you can do so with appropriate person-centered care. Home care and home health care options can lend an extra hand and support you throughout your caregiving journey.

Key Takeaways

  1. The movement to age in place reflects older Americans wanting to stay in their homes. Family members can help older relatives remain at home with proper care and support.
  2. Aging in place has benefits that differ from community care. At home, older adults can enjoy familiar surroundings, retain their social connections, and personalize their routines to a greater degree.
  3. Family caregiving, home care, and home health care can play a role in aging in place. An older adult may need a different combination of these over time.
  4. Aging in place may not be possible for all older adults. Monetary limitations, a lack of technology access, complex medical situations, and more may indicate that aging in place is not viable.

What does aging in place mean?

Aging in place describes the concept of your loved one continuing to live at home and in their community without losing their independence, safety, or quality of life.[01]

This means that older adults should be able to live in the environment they choose, regardless of reduced physical or cognitive abilities or other factors that make it increasingly challenging to remain independent.[02]

You can help your loved one age in place with family caregiving, home care, home health care, or even age-friendly modifications to the home environment. These person-centered and family-centered care options can help preserve your loved one’s autonomy and ability to age safely and with dignity at home.

What are the pros and cons of aging in place?

A graphic describing the pros and cons of aging in place

While your loved one’s situation is unique, there are some positives and negatives of aging in place that may apply to many seniors in the U.S.

Those who choose to age in place may enjoy the following benefits:

  • The comforts of home. Your loved one has probably made their home into the ideal space for their tastes, preferences, and needs. It can be hard for a senior living community to offer this level of personalization.
  • The familiarity with their environment. The older adult in your life may feel more confident navigating a home that they know well versus an expansive community with many hallways and rooms.
  • Preserving social connections. Your loved one can remain in their beloved neighborhood with their longtime network. Relationships add joy and contentment to your loved one’s quality of life, and it can be challenging to form new relationships and say goodbye to established ones.
  • Routine personalization. With care provided at home, your loved one has a greater degree of control over their daily routine and how they spend their time. This retained sense of autonomy reminds them that they’re indeed living in their home.

However, there are some potential drawbacks to aging in place for your loved one, including the following:

  • Cost. Your loved one may be able to live in a senior living community for less money than it would take to make the necessary repairs or safety accommodations to their home as they age — and as their home ages, too. Additionally, if your loved one needs care 24 hours a day, it may be more economical for them to consider senior living options.
  • Greater caregiver responsibilities. Without the help of staff in a senior living community, your loved one may lean more on you or require in-home professional caregivers to meet their daily needs. Caregiving or coordinating care can be especially time-consuming.
  • Limited socialization opportunities. While senior living communities often feature activities and clubs within their walls to prevent social isolation, a senior aging in place at home may need to leave their home to participate in comparable activities. This can be difficult if a senior no longer drives, if they have trouble accessing public transportation options from their home, or if their caregiver cannot transport them.

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Taking care of elderly parents at home: Care options

There are several options for care for elderly parents in their home. Depending on the situation, one or a combination of these may be the most ideal fit for your loved one to age in place at home.

Age-in-place home care

Round-the-clock home care for elderly parents can provide a range of supportive services including housekeeping, personal care assistance, and more. These workers, sometimes called home care aides or personal care aides, can also support the efforts of family caregivers.

Some seniors may need occasional help with transportation and meal prep. Others who require incontinence care, have dementia, or need mobility assistance, but who don’t wish to make the transition to senior living, may need full-time personal care and help around the house.

Home care for the elderly in their own homes may include any of the following activities:

  • Companionship and social interaction
  • Assistance with bathing, showering, and toileting
  • Shopping and running errands
  • Cleaning, cooking, and housekeeping
  • Transportation to errands, activities, or appointments

Depending on the services needed, the amount of home care someone receives can be as little as a few hours a week to full-time care. Generally, recipients pay for services by the hour, and agencies or private home care providers set costs for home care. Some agencies may require hourly minimums per week or service in specific time blocks.

Home health care

Home health care is another type of in-home adult care. Unlike home care, this type of care offers medical care to your loved one in their home.

Nurses or other qualified medical professionals may provide home health care. Their activities with your loved one may include the following:

  • Exercising or stretching
  • Pain management
  • Recording health data
  • Skilled nursing
  • Wound care

This type of in-home care for elderly adults is best for those with urgent or ongoing medical issues. The hours needed with this type of care can vary greatly based on your loved one’s unique health concerns. This type of care may be covered partially by Medicare in some circumstances.

Family caregiver

Taking care of an aging parent can be a worthwhile endeavor for many adult children. If your parent has cared for you for most of your life, you may now be ready to give back and take care of them.

Many people choose this option for their loved ones. In fact, 53 million unpaid caregivers provide more than $470 billion worth of support to family and friends each year — this financial amount rivals the budget for the entire federal Medicare program, according to USAging.[03]

If you have the time and the resources to dedicate to being a primary family caregiver, you should still consider utilizing senior respite care options occasionally. Remember to take time to attend vital medical appointments, exercise your body, or renew your spirit with a coffee date with friends.

As a family caregiver, you may find additional support through in-person or online caregiver support groups. If your loved one is a veteran, you may be eligible for family caregiver support programs through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

How can I help care for senior parents at home?

If you’re a family member of someone who wishes to remain independent and at home for as long as possible, you can help them age in place through the following supportive measures:

  • Plan ahead. A big part of planning for a parent’s home care is making a plan. Talk with your loved one about their wishes and desires for their future before it becomes reality. The more time you have to prepare, the more likely you’ll be able to accommodate your loved one’s preferences.
  • Respect your loved one’s autonomy. Encourage your loved one to play an active role in the planning for their care. Listen with an open mind. The things that may be important to your relative may be different than what you anticipated.
  • Develop a money management strategy. Your loved one needs to budget for their anticipated care along with the costs of maintaining or upgrading their home with accessible modifications. This can be done before care is even needed. You can track the trend of costs for in-home care for elderly parents in your state through the in-home care section of the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. It’s also worth looking at your loved one’s insurance to see what it covers for in-home care.
  • Identify safety hazards. A safe home environment can prevent falls, promote wellness, and increase the viability of living at home for longer. You can use this home safety checklist from the National Home Safety and Home Modification Work Group to look for common home safety issues in your loved one’s home. You should also encourage your loved one to prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies.
  • Promote wellness behaviors. The development of chronic diseases can limit the time your loved one is able to spend aging in place. You can encourage them to quit smoking, eat healthy, exercise regularly (if their health allows), sleep well, and receive proper health screenings — all ways to promote their overall wellness and reduce their risk of developing a chronic disease, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.[04] You should frame this encouragement as a way for them to continue to maintain their independence.
  • Encourage socialization. Loneliness is a serious issue, with prolonged isolation appearing to be as bad for your loved one as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, as noted by UW Medicine.[05] Additionally, the Harvard Study of Adult Development — an almost 80-year study into adult life — demonstrates that close relationships and the happiness they create play a significant role in staving off mental and physical decline over time.[06] Your loved one’s social connections are as important as their physical wellness. Be sure to tailor socialization to your loved one’s unique personality and interests.
  • Coordinate transportation. If your loved one no longer drives, it’s vital for them to have transportation to important medical appointments, or just to meet a friend for a lunch date. Driving them yourself is a great option, but if you can’t, you may be able to connect your loved one with free public transportation options through your loved one’s local Area Agency on Aging. Ride hailing apps, such as Uber, may be another option.
  • Prioritize caring for yourself. If you’re planning to take care of your elderly parent at home, you’ll be playing a critical role in their wellness. However, you must take care of yourself in order to properly care for your loved one as they age in place. Caregiver burnout can become a serious issue without proper breaks and care for your own mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. Plan a time that’s only for you each day. This could be as simple as a bubble bath, a quick moment of prayer, or drinking a favorite beverage.

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How to tell if aging in place is no longer an option

While many seniors want to continue to live at home, situations arise that make it less than ideal to try to age in place. It may be time to consider community care instead of in-home care if your loved one is experiencing any of the following:

  • Your loved one’s home can’t be modified to meet their accessibility needs.
  • The lack of technology accessibility at your loved one’s home is preventing them from receiving necessary support.
  • They can no longer afford the upkeep and maintenance of their home.
  • Your loved one has become increasingly isolated and lacks socialization opportunities.
  • Your loved one begins to exhibit signs of cognitive decline that result in aggression or wandering.

How to find senior care options

Hiring an in-home caregiver can feel like a daunting task for an adult child. You want to find the right fit for your parent’s unique situation. Our Senior Living Advisors can help you compare care types, review local in-home care service providers, discuss ways to pay for care, and schedule interviews with potential care providers. From sending in-home care resources to answering all your questions regarding senior living, we’re here to assist you every step of the way.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009, October 15). Healthy places terminology.

  2. Emlet, C. A. & Moceri, J. T. (2011, November 24). The importance of social connectedness in building age-friendly communities. Journal of Aging Research.

  3. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2022, September 1). How you can prevent chronic diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  4. Domonell, K. (2018, February 28). Is loneliness worse for you than smoking? Right as Rain by UW Medicine.

  5. Mineo, L. (2017, April 11). Good genes are nice, but joy is better. The Harvard Gazette.

Meet the Author
Melissa Lee

Melissa Lee is a copywriter at A Place for Mom, where she primarily creates content for veterans and caregivers. She pairs over a decade of writing experience with expertise gained from her time as a military programs volunteer and military spouse. She studied journalism at the University of Kansas.

Edited by

Danny Szlauderbach

Reviewed by

Carol Bradley Bursack

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