Trying to make a determination about the kind of care your loved one may need is a very personal decision. Many factors play into that decision: your parent’s wishes, the financial resources, the support systems available, proximity of family members, the availability and willingness of those family members to help, the living arrangements, your parent’s overall health and mental state, and many more. Two families with seemingly similar circumstances will likely come to two very different decisions.
One of the biggest decisions comes when it is clear that your loved one needs help. While you may be able to assist your loved one in some ways, providing day-to-day care can very quickly become an overwhelming task. Once you make the decision to seek some help, you will need to take some time to sort through the options.
The two most common options that people consider initially when this happens is whether to have home care services provide assistance to your loved one in their home or to consider moving them into a facility. Both are great options depending on the needs and circumstances.
The availability of services to aid seniors in their homes is remarkable. Not only can you get caregivers to help with the daily tasks such as bathing and dressing, but there are endless possibilities for other types of assistance as well.
You can get assistance with light housekeeping and meal preparation. There are services that will deliver groceries to the home as well as programs like Meals on Wheels that provide a hot meal in the middle of the day to seniors that are unable to get out.
There are services to help with bill paying and managing the finances; providers that will supply transportation services to doctors appointments and other places someone might need to go (you can also pay for a companion to accompany them to the appointment). You can find help in setting up the weekly medication box. Some services provide companions for your family member which is a great way to get a set of eyes in the house routinely if you are becoming concerned about how your parent is getting along.
Another option to be considered is moving your loved one to a Personal Care Home (often called Assisted Living although this is now the designation for a level of care between Personal Care and Skilled Care). In the Personal Care Home environment you can expect to find a 24 hour supervision situation with somebody in the building to respond to your loved one at any time that they might need assistance. Meals are provided and laundry and cleaning services are usually included. Medication Technicians dispense medications as scheduled by the physician which can help with compliance if that is an issue. Your loved one can receive assistance with bathing, dressing and toileting as they need it.
Most Personal Care facilities also have a variety of daily activities to provide opportunities for socialization with others. There are frequently in-house activities as well as trips that your loved one can choose to participate in or not! Many facilities have in-house physicians as well if this eases the issue of medical oversight but you are more than welcome to continue to take them to outside providers. Some facilities may provide transportation services, others may not. This is a great option to consider if your loved one is in need of a level of supervision that you can no longer provide yourself. And, once you use more than about 40 hours of home care per week, this may be a more economical choice as well.
When my father was still home, he got to the point that he needed help with his bathing and dressing. Being the stubborn person that dementia has turned him into, this was becoming a very heavy burden for my mother! He would fall sometimes during his routine and find a way to try to blame my mother for the fall. My mother could not physically help him up so he was left to struggle to get himself back up off of the floor.
When the physical and emotional strain became too much for Mom, we decided to get help in the home 3 days a week to assist my father with his morning routine. We had the caregiver bathe and dress him each of the days that she was there. Though my father was grudging about the ‘expense’ of having a caregiver, he did comment to my mother on several occasions that he felt ‘so good’ after his bath when the caregiver gave him a good back scrub! Having the caregiver eliminated some of the in-fighting that developed between my parents during these types of activities which hopefully was a relief for both of them! My mother got a break and my dad still got the care he needed.
These are very personal decisions. Each family will need to become familiar with the options and services available in their local area. Talking to different home care providers and asking lots of questions is a great way to get a feel for the types of assistance you can find. These agencies will usually send somebody out to do an evaluation to help you determine what help might be needed. Your local Office of Aging can also be a resource to you in finding help. Visit several Personal Care Homes and get a feel for the staff and the type of services they provide.
Learning as much as possible about the options will allow you to make an informed decision when the need for help can no longer be ignored!
On the journey with you…….Kathy