How to Find Care for Your Aging Parent: What You Need to Know
Finding care for your aging parent can be challenging. It’s often difficult to approach this topic, and it can be confusing to know what kind of care your loved one needs. So, where do you start? The best way to begin is to first identify whether or not your parent needs additional care and what signs to look for.
Common Signs My Aging Parent Needs Care
Your dad has been the family’s star chef for decades. He’s always the one to bring an incredible dessert to gatherings, and you look forward to him sharing new recipes with you.
Lately, however, you’ve noticed a change. He says he hasn’t been cooking at home as much, and that going to the grocery store is becoming a challenge. What should you do?
Or maybe your mother is recovering from a fall. She’s healthy again, but the incident made you realize it might not be safe for her to live at home alone anymore. What are your options and next steps?
If one of these situations sounds familiar to you, it might be time to explore finding assisted living or at-home care for your parent. Oftentimes, knowing if your parent might benefit from care comes from noticing how well they can keep up with the activities of daily living (ADLs). These include:
- Using the restroom
- Transferring – like getting up from a chair
- Getting dressed
If you notice signs that your parent is having trouble with any of these activities, it may be time to consider finding care for your parent.
What Kinds of Care Are Available?
You can choose from a variety of options depending on a person’s needs and lifestyle. If your parent is having trouble with the ADLs above but can still perform some tasks independently, assisted living or at-home care are two solutions. If they need professional medical help with 24/7 care, explore skilled nursing.
Family members or health professionals provide care in the home. Depending on the type of care that’s needed, this option may require multiple caregivers.
Older adults who need some help with ADLs but still want independence can choose assisted living for medication management, provided meals, and more.
No matter which option you’re considering, you’ll need to discuss your thoughts with any other family member who will be directly involved. While this can be a difficult conversation, it’s vital to be on the same page about the type of care your parent needs – and sometimes, convincing someone that care is needed at all.
During this time, families can either grow closer or apart. By being respectful, listening to each person’s thoughts, setting practical goals, and staying calm, you’ll be well on your way to making this a positive experience.
How Should I Talk to My Parent about Assisted Living or At-Home Care?
Oftentimes, talking to your parent about your concerns is the hardest part of the whole process. They may surprise you by agreeing that it’s time for new living arrangements, but don’t be shocked if their reaction is the complete opposite.
To help make the conversation as smooth as possible, try using the tips outlined below.
Think about the discussion from your parent’s point of view.
They may be upset, in denial that they need help, or fearful of making such a big change. As when you discussed the matter with the rest of the family, be open-minded, sympathetic, and patient.
Choose the right time to broach the topic.
If they’re not a morning person, don’t call at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. If they prefer face-to-face conversations and you can be in the area, don’t hide behind a phone call. Bring along any other family members who have weighed in.
Give it some time.
You might find that the conversation goes smoothly – or you might hit some resistance. Either way, don’t expect an overnight decision. Moving to a completely new home – and facing declining health – would be an enormous change for anyone. Allow your parent to have space to contemplate what you’ve talked about.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Explain to your parent that you’re concerned about his or her safety and that you want what’s best for them. If you’re feeling sad, frightened, or frustrated, try telling them so. It might encourage them to open up more, or at least show them how much you’ve thought about this.
Though there may be difficult moments throughout this process, it’s critical to reach an understanding. Once everyone involved can agree on next steps, the process can move forward – and you can rest assured you’re doing the right thing for your parent.
How to Search for Assisted Living or At-Home Care
Now that you’ve decided to move forward with finding care for your parent, you’ll want to explore all the options. Whether your parent needs assisted living or at-home care, think of this process like buying a house. You’d want to see the property, ask the seller questions, and find a place that’s the best fit. Finding a solution to get care is no different.
Tips for finding the right care for your parent
- Consider the costs you’ll incur, whether it’s for assisted living or at-home care. And don’t forget about the less-obvious expenses of at-home care.
- Think about your parent’s needs, both now and in the future. Would the assisted living community you’re considering be able to provide for them if their health changes, or would they need to move again?
- Research through multiple channels. Searching online can help you find reviews and options you might not have known about. Supplement that with comments from friends, family members, and medical professionals, as well as visits to the site.
- Trust your gut. If the five-star community you visit just doesn’t seem right for your parent, it probably isn’t. Remember that this will be their home, not yours.
Costs of Assisted Living vs. Home Care
Don’t forget to consider costs as you search for the right care solution for your parent.
- Remember that Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living or at-home care.
- Medicaid may pay for a portion of these costs.
If your parent is a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, they may be eligible for benefits from the Veterans Administration.
According to ConsumerAffairs, the average cost of assisted living is approximately $50,000 per year. At-home care services may cost $15-30 per hour; remember that you may need multiple people to help provide the necessary care.
When you consider costs, be sure to account for time and effort. Taking care of your parent in your home may sound inexpensive up-front, but the amount of time you’ll need to spend each day – as well as any equipment, home improvements, or medications – may not make it feasible.
As you research care options, make sure to read the fine print of any payment you’ll make. If you have questions or something seems unclear, ask about it. Make sure you have a complete picture of all associated costs – both up-front and continuing – before you agree to anything.
Emotional Well-Being While Caring for Aging Parents
Planning for and moving your parent to an independent or assisted living community, or to a skilled nursing center, can be an incredibly emotional experience. Not only are there concerns and tensions to potentially deal with among other family members, but there’s also the underlying feeling that all this seems so final.
There’s no doubt that recognizing the age of your parent, as well as the physical and mental changes that come with age, can be unsettling, frightening, and hard to accept.
Avoiding or ignoring this feeling won’t solve it, but talking it through with others, focusing on the positive, and keeping a sense of humor can help you cope.
Some adult children also feel guilt or inadequacy if they cannot take care of their parent at home, or if they eventually need to move them to an assisted living or skilled nursing community. These thoughts are normal, but realize that if your goal is getting the best possible care for your parent, there’s no need to feel guilty.
Finally, caring for a parent at home can be draining and stressful, so give yourself permission to take a break once in a while – whether that’s through adult day services, asking other family members for a hand, or just spending a few minutes each day taking care of yourself. After all, if you’re not feeling your best, you won’t be able to provide the best care.
Learn More About Care at Otterbein SeniorLife
At Otterbein SeniorLife, our elders are part of our family. We provide the highest quality of care in a home-like atmosphere, where each person is treated with dignity and respect. And the amenities, opportunities, and events at each location allow elders to live life to the fullest and pursue the things they enjoy most.
Our assisted living, home health, and respite care services in Ohio and central Indiana provide peace of mind that your parent will receive the care they need, with the comfort and independence they deserve.
Find a location near you and learn more about what Otterbein SeniorLife can provide.