Chad Anderson, MBA
As we begin the new year it may be a good time to reflect on 2018 and assess the areas in our lives requiring attention in 2019. Many of us set goals for all aspects of our lives; from work, activities, children, and physical health to our families. As families transition from caring for their children to now caring for their adult aging parents, it can be challenging to recognize or know when to seek the proper type of care for them.
There is a delicate balance between assuring our parents are well cared for and understanding their desire to maintain independence. For the majority of seniors, living at home is very important. While maintaining a regular lifestyle helps our loved ones remain active and preserve their dignity, it often becomes necessary to adjust their living situation. So how do we decide when, how much, and where our parents need assistance?
As loved ones decline physically and mentally, the changes can be subtle and occur over time. There may not be obvious red flags or noticeable changes. It is important to assess their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and understand where they may benefit from having some extra support and assistance.
- Bathing and showering
- Preparing meals
- Self-feeding – in later stages
- Dressing and laundry upkeep
- Personal hygiene – haircuts/hairstyles, shaving, nails
- Mobility – getting out of bed, walking, driving a car
- Managing finances
- Medication management
Assessing your loved one’s abilities can be difficult. Often times, aging parents will not agree they need help. Perhaps their decline has been slow and they may not notice (or care to notice) their need for help. If you have identified your loved one requires assistance with one or several of the items on the list above, there are many resources available:
- Home Health: Home Health is covered under Medicare and most insurances and will provide skilled nursing in the comfort of your own home.
- Home Care: Home Care Companies will visit and assess your loved one to determine how best to support them at home (Monarch Senior Solutions)
- Government Resources : a good place to check for benefits that may be available to support aging gracefully (benefits.gov, benefitscheckup.org, local agencies on aging, Veterans Administration for veterans)
- Placement specialists: if requiring placement outside the home Monarch Senior Solutions can assist with advising on the many options available.
It is difficult today with many households having both spouses working outside the home to find time for adding parental care to the list. But the stress/worry of knowing if Mom or Dad are properly cared for can take away from our professional efficiency and family time. Try to make it a goal for 2019 to communicate with your parents and share with them your concerns. The earlier you can start the discussions with them, the better it will be when their health begins to decline. Also, in some cases, starting with basic in-home help can extend their ability to stay at home longer.