On the home front
It’s 3 am. For the third time tonight, you hear the steps coming down the hall, the pause, and the confused look on grandpa’s face. Only this time, it is getting more and more difficult to get his needs taken care of in the bathroom and get him tucked back into bed. The house isn’t really set up for a wheelchair, and you know it’s only a matter of time till walking will no longer be a possibility. The kids will be needing to get ready for school soon and the house is in disarray. As much as everyone loves grandpa, the toll of 24/7 care, heavy lifting and trying to keep him oriented and entertained is becoming bleaker every day.
It’s a reality many families face. No one wants to be selfish. But is there a better option? There is no need to feel guilt. In the aging process, some seniors are actually receiving suboptimal care by tired family members who lack resources and experience.
Use your resources
Resources are key, especially at this stage of life. Most people do not anticipate or specialize in Alzheimer’s Disease, for example, until it becomes a real situation. What even is memory care? The emotional and physical burden of care can become very overwhelming.
A very real and available option is an assisted living community with many resources available for the various stages in the aging process an older person may face. In fact, it may even help create a feeling of independent living. No longer are they living in your house, becoming more and more dependent on family and perhaps too embarrassed to admit that taking a shower or getting dressed is getting to be too difficult. Specialists can provide daily mental stimulation or other health support. There are several things to keep in mind when choosing an assisted living or nursing home for your senior.
- Keeping it local. If Grandpa grew up in Oklahoma City, he may feel best staying in this area. Besides, keeping elderly parents nearby ensures you can still be there to visit and continue to share into their life. If certain things are important such as driving Grandpa to doctor appointments, that can still be done. Or if an emergency comes up and you are unable to make that drive, you know there will be capable staff that will be able to help out. It’s all about remaining involved, but having the resources you need to make life as comfortable and doable for all parties.
- One place. Ensuring an assisted living community can assist with all stages of a senior’s life will help from keeping bouncing Grandpa around. At some point, it will be impossible to do the lifting. And outright dangerous to avoid slips and falls. A very common 911 call is due to an elderly person falling and hitting their head or breaking a hip. Can this all be avoided? Make sure the assisted living community you choose will be capable of caring for your elderly parent as they continue to age and require more assistance. In the meantime, it’s important they feel at home in a nurturing environment.
- In the flurry of family life, it is easy for an old person to feel lonely. It can be important for them to maintain their own friendships and be among peers. Some nursing homes or assisted living facilities offer safe and secure environments which encourages socializing with others in the same age or going through the same stage of life. Good food served at consistent times at a table of friends can be comforting to an older person. Community atmosphere where friends come together for meals and activities can keep your elderly parent interested and mind active.
- An independent life. Even though a person can be surrounded by resources to help in time of need, many seniors feel the need to be in control of their life and would still like to enjoy as much independence as possible. For these situations, finding a place your elderly parent can call home with their own living quarters, perhaps access to shopping and the opportunity to make new friends can be a source of real comfort. And yet, great food, custodial help and even assistance to shower is all at hand.
Making a plan
A family discussion with involvement of healthcare professionals caring for your senior is a good place to start when determining best care. Look at senior care facilities and resources in your local area, especially those that specialize in the individualized care your loved one needs. Even before you have made a decision on next steps, schedule an appointment or tour to see what options exist. You may be surprised about the support that you could be receiving. Do not give up or allow the burden to outpace your ability to care for a loved one.
An assisted care home doesn’t have to mean a hospital environment. Find a community that your loved one can call home. Perhaps they can have their own private apartment in a supportive community with many of their own personal belongings. Dinner served in a dining area among friends. Family nearby. And all this with the extra help and support of staff and specialists who can offer assistance to dress, shower and help keep residents interested and mentally stimulated. The possibilities are endless!