It can be difficult to start making plans for parents who are elderly, especially when we ourselves live with chronic illness and know first-hand how it feels to have people come into your life and try help out. Even though they have the best of intentions, it’s hard to accept help as well as accept that we may actually need the help. This article below by Theanna Zika has some good tips worth considering.
1. Avoiding talking about alternative living arrangements for your parents.
It is critical to be proactive about this! If you start this process early on, it will be a lot easier and much less confrontational. When you start these discussions about options and choices early on, you are able to be much more relaxed & calm about it.
If you wait until after Mom has fallen and broken her hip, the pressure is on and the emotions are high. At that point you are pressed for time to find answers quickly.
2. Not having a clear picture of your parents’ finances.
Do they have a long term care policy? It should be kept where it can be easily accessed. You should also read through it to understand what it does and does not cover.
If there is no insurance, are there other financial resources? Would it behoove your parents to talk to an attorney about Medicaid eligibility and spend down rules? If one of your parents is a Veteran they may be eligible to have certain services covered.
3. When your parents’ health starts to fail, thinking that a nursing home is the only option.
There are no shortage of options around these days. If your parent is resolute about staying in their own home, it is very possible to arrange for care there.
There are also ways to be very creative about combining several modalities of care. For instance, a family might have their father go to adult day care several times a week during the day, then have a caregiver stay over nights and family members supplement the other times if needed. The possibilities are endless to customize a plan that is just right for your situation.
4. Not getting help until the last minute.
This is a big one. If you wait until Mom is schedule to come home tomorrow from a hospital stay, it will be extremely difficult to make good, rational decisions in such a short time. Trying to develop a good plan of care under such stress will be overwhelming.
My advice is to do your homework sooner rather than later. It’s never too early to start to search out a few agencies or facilities, find ones you are comfortable with and start building a relationship with them. You can even arrange a visit for you and / or your parents to a facility or have someone come to your home for an assessment. This way, if an emergency occurs, you’ll be reaching out to people you are comfortable with and are familiar with your loved one and their situation.
5. Looking at cost alone when deciding on care.
This can go both ways. There are very expensive nursing home facilities that have very poor track records of care. Don’t be swayed by fancy brochures, videos or tours. Try and talk to some of the actual residents and their loved ones.
As for home care, be very careful about choosing the “cheapest” hourly rate. Remember that good caregivers demand to be paid more. Good homecare agencies cannot offer the best caregivers AND be the cheapest. Also ask to meet and approve of any caregiver before they start care.