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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As Mom and Dad age, the reality hits that they may need senior care. Determining what type of senior care they may require is often a good place to begin. Are they still somewhat independent, but just need help with cleaning and shopping or are they in need of more care? Areas to look at could be their physical health, any changes in hygiene, trouble with finances, trouble keeping track of medication, insurance, or bill paying. Are they able to keep up with their daily living activities such as cooking? Ask them if they are they getting enough to eat? How are they getting to the store and getting groceries home? Has it gotten harder to get around during inclement weather? These are simple tools that will help to facilitate important discussions concerning their senior care and safety.
If your loved one needs round the clock care, you can use Medicare´s new Nursing Home Compare tool to assist you in finding a good facility.
Perhaps it is just time to downsize to help them maintain their independence? No matter what the individual situation, it never hurts to put yourself in their shoes before proceeding. Growing old may have its challenges, but taking the steps to look at the situation through their eyes most often gives the caregiver a good vantage point and the ability to provide not only senior care, but a good dose of dignity as well.