”I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” We have all seen that commercial and some of us have probably giggled at the cute elderly woman who is the subject of said fall. But for some, that commercial may have struck a nerve. ”What if it were my mom or dad? It could be days if they live alone before they are discovered!” These are thoughts that may cross your mind if you have an elderly loved one who is a little less stable on their feet these days or a little more forgetful than they used to be. Of course, we all want to offer our parents and elderly loved ones all of the creature comforts that they are accustomed to as they move through their golden years. For some this will mean staying in their home with home health care aides coming bi-weekly maybe or even daily and for others this may mean making a difficult decision and considering moving your loved one into some type of assisted living facility.
So, how do you come to these conclusions? The decision of at home care vs. in a home care will largely be determined by the level of care that your loved one needs. Does your dad need someone to help him bathe in the morning and evening and prepare meals? Or, is completing simple personal care tasks too much for him and by doing these things himself he is putting himself at risk for injury? Also, if he is too combative or has dementia he cannot be left alone ever! Taking these things into account may begin to put into perspective what your next steps should be.
Home health care may be enough for the individual who is capable and doesn’t have dementia but is just in need of some extra help during the day and generally is functioning at a high level and able to complete most daily living activities on their own. Another option might be an independent living facility that offers the option to transition to assisted living when and if the time comes that they can no longer take care of themselves. These types of facilities often have apartment-like living where spouses/partners can live together. They also often have a vibrant community, offering dining options and activities. Finally, there are standard nursing homes to consider. Usually a nursing home offers the individual a small room, almost hospital-like in setting and is typically for people in need of medical care as well. It is unlikely that a person’s significant other would be able to join them in this type of setting.
It is important to consider cost as well in the decision making process. Independent living facilities can be extremely pricey for anyone, let alone those on a fixed income and can easily deplete a person’s funds. Nursing homes are usually partly subsidized by Medicaid but a push is being made for residents to accept greater financial responsibility, so again, considering the cost will be an important factor.
As with all decisions of this nature, it is vital to keep your loved one a part of the process if that is possible. Leaving the place where they feel most comfortable will likely be traumatic for most, especially if it means leaving a partner or spouse behind. There are many different levels of care so finding the one that best suits your loved one may take some time. This will likely be a difficult process for all involved but the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your loved one is safe, in whatever environment that you choose, is priceless.
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