Do you need help with elderly parents and their care? The same people — who were strong and hardworking during your youth — are now becoming frail and sickly. Aging parents present a challenge to us, who are young(er) with families and jobs of our own. Then again, caring for elderly parents is a birthright; the last generation has paid its dues and it is time for us to pick up the tab from here. If you notice that mom or dad may need some help to fully enjoy their golden years, there are four choices you most likely need to consider at some point.
- Living with elderly parents. If you have a good relationship with your parents, it can be a great joy to have them come live with you. On the flip-side, they might enjoy having you move into their home. This living arrangement does not work out well if the relationship is strained or the space is small; if you or your parents tend to meddle, it is nearly unworkable.
- Contract with home health services to begin caring for elderly parents at home. There is no need for mom or dad to move. These companies send trained nursing aides and home health nurses to provide physical and occupational therapy, assist with medications, and provide help with personal care. If you add a part-time housekeeper who also shops and cooks to the mix, the aging parents are well taken care of. This arrangement is preferable for families who like to keep some space between one another. Of course, this solution is only feasible if the parents’ health plan covers home care services — or if you have the funds to pay for them.
- Assisted living communities maintain the independence of aging parents. If home health care is not possible and mom and dad realize that their home may no longer be suitable for their needs, assisted living is a good option. Plenty of venues let residents bring their own furniture and a few may even allow pets. Shopping around is a must. Keep in mind that even though there is some nursing care on-site, this type of living arrangement generally caters to overall healthy individuals with minimal ongoing nursing requirements. Until your — or your parents’ — money runs out, seniors are welcome to live there.
- Nursing homes offer plenty of hands-on nursing care such as bath aids for elderly. Nursing facilities have gotten a lot of bad press. Ira Rosofsky, Ph.D.’s candid look at the “Adventures in Old Age” shows them to be frequently understaffed and operating on a minimum-requirement standard. Even so, when caring for elderly parents in the home — theirs or yours — is simply not possible, and if the money for assisted living has run out, the nursing home may be the option of last resort. Medicaid will pick up the tab, as soon as the parent in need of nursing home care has no assets left.
Conspicuously absent from this list is the well-documented need for heart-to-heart conversations with mom and dad. This is due, in part, to the fact that I am addressing you — the grown-up child who must live with the decision you will make. Although lofty sentiments are great in theory, only you know what you can and cannot handle. It stands to reason that knowing your options — before discussing them with your elderly parents — makes a lot of sense.