Should Adult Children Take Care of Dying Parents at Home?

Author: Andrea Miller

Reviewed By: Catherine Braxton

Adult children should take care of dying parents at home if their loved one wants to remain there and they can meet the necessary care requirements. The National Institute on Aging identifies four primary areas of care needed at life’s end: safety and practical needs, spiritual support, mental health, and physical comfort. Hospice services can help meet these needs, providing support to both the dying loved one and the family caregivers. Additionally, death doulas offer support to families throughout the end-of-life process and during grieving. 

How Do I Prepare to Care for a Dying Parent at Home?

Prepare to care for a dying parent at home by assessing and addressing their essential care needs. Start by rearranging furniture on the first floor to eliminate fall hazards and make room for necessary medical equipment like hospital beds, bedside commodes, wheelchairs, or walkers. Ensure there’s ample space for caregivers to navigate easily and for visitors to spend time with your parent comfortably. 

Offer your parent food and drinks regularly, but understand that most people have a limited appetite at the end of life. Pressure sores, or bedsores, become a concern for older adults who spend most of their time in bed. Degenerative tissue breakdown makes it more difficult for the person’s body to heal these wounds. Help your family member change positions every two hours if they require mobility assistance, and have another person on hand to assist with safe transfers. Make sure to keep the skin clean and dry, especially if your loved one wears adult undergarments.

How Does Hospice Help a Dying Parent?

Hospice helps a dying parent with support as needed during the last six months of life if the person decides to stop life-extending treatment and receive only comfort care. This Medicare benefit becomes available if your loved one has a terminal diagnosis. Through hospice, the patient and family receive bereavement support, skilled nursing care, home health aides, social services, medications, medical equipment and medical supplies. Hospice providers visit the home as needed to support and assist the family caregivers. They also offer respite care to the family.