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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There are many things to consider when asked to care for an elderly person. It may surprise you to know that 70% of elderly care is provided by family members and friends. Many think they can take care of an elderly person, but it takes a very special person to do it well. Elderly care is a challenging task - one that is also inevitable. Oftentimes, adult children experience sadness and depression as they watch a parent who was competent and capable become frail and needy.
Do your homework. Talk to people who are already taking care of an elderly person. Also check out the many online and community resources geared toward senior care. Whether it's assisted living or a nursing facility, our seniors deserve caregivers who are compassionate and caring. Learn about LTC (long term care) insurance and all aspects of care (including costs) in the last stage of life. What you learn may even help yourself some day.