As people age they often require increased assistance in everyday activities. Decisions on what is the best type of care for a senior can be difficult and often complicated. Here is help on how to decide between assisted living or senior care in their home.
The choices between assisted living professionally at a nursing home or relying on care in the home can be an agonizing choice for the family of a senior. There are pros and cons to both options and they should be carefully considered before an arrangement is in place.
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"My sisters/brothers don't lift a finger; I do everything for dad!" and "My mother's become my child!" Common cries among adult children caring for elderly parents at home. I ask in return, "Why are you the caregiver?" It's an admirable job; after all they raised you and loved you as you were growing up; now it's your turn. Or is It? Why only you and not your siblings? Is there another way to care for them and still show your love? There is a high incidence of caregivers' health failing before their loved one goes.
It is a stressful job. It's often a 10 hr/day, 7 day/wk job, if not 24/7, without breaks, days off, vacations, or even pay. It is one that involves chef and shopper, chauffeur, self-care manager, social events and appointment scheduler, bath aide, nursing attendant, laundress, companion, financial manager, and.... Then mom complains because you don't do right. And that's just your job with her. What about your own life?
6. Reduce the risk for falls: modify the house for safety by using a room-by-room safety checklist (see a comprehensive one in the book Dad's Home Alone); provide grab bars, shower seat, and a high toilet or raised toilet seat, for bathroom safety. Don't forget a medical alert pendant or wristband. In case of a fall help is just a press-of-the button away. Falls can't be prevented. Gravity is the same whether in a nursing home, at home, or standing next to a loved one.
Remember, elderly people, just like you and me, want to remain as independent as possible. Respect who they are and make sure your parent weighs in on the decisions. But also, know that they may not be as realistic about their safety and care needs. You are there as their safety net, not their "parent".
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Seniors who choose to hire a private senior care agency or caregiver to provide for their care services can benefit from a professional plan of care. A senior care plan will guide the caregiver to maintain a consistent routine and include all the necessary activities for healthy aging.
What information should a senior care plan include?
A senior care plan should provide a list of the senior's medical conditions, medications, medical doctors, pharmacies and other care providers.
What daily activities should be monitored?
All Activities of Daily Living should be listed along with the time meals are eaten, the time medications are taken and other physical and mental activities along with other job duties for the caregiver. The information should include the following:
Nutrition: Food prepared and meals eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, fluid intake (number of glasses of water)
Health & Hygiene: Transfers from bed to chair, bathroom visits, showers, dressing, hair care, skin care, nail care, dental care, exercise routine
Daily Routine & Vital Signs: Wake-up time, nap times, bed time, blood pressure, weight, doctor appointments
Physical and Mental Activities: Exercises, walks, physical therapy routine, reading newspaper, magazines, books, mental exercise games
Household Cleaning: Cleaning kitchen, bathroom, laundry, changing bed linens, sorting mail, sweeping floors, dust rooms, vacuum, run errands, pet care
Seniors should also ask their doctors if there are any activities they would like to track to monitor the success of medications or the symptoms of their medical conditions. By monitoring daily routines such as times of sleep, meals and exercise, doctors can better measure the impact of medications and the progression of memory loss or the loss of physical capabilities. This can sometimes result in better diagnosis and slowing down the progresion of age-related diseases.
It is a good idea to maintain a daily log for the daily activities. You can create a notebook to contain all the care plan notebooks and take this along with you to the doctor's appointments. The care plan can also be a great resource for medical professionals if there is ever an emergency situation.
Senior care agencies usually will provide a plan of care for their clients, as a way to train, monitor and manage both the caregiver and the care. One of the benefits of hiring a professional senior home care agency is receiving a complete professional care plan, along with active management of the caregivers. Quality senior care agencies will also employ the caregivers as their employees which provides the added protection of worker's compensation insurance, professional liability insurance and payroll taxes to make sure the senior and their family members do not need to worry about caregiver employee issues. In addition, the caregiver has support and training along with benefits, as senior care can be emotionally challenging and sometimes physically exhausting. Good agencies will provide a care for the caregiver program to make sure quality caregivers can continue to succeed in providing care.