Your parents or other loved ones are aging and you are starting to see signs that they need help. What do you do?
Nearly 90% of seniors say that they want to stay at home as they age. But, you are likely aware that isn’t as simple as it sounds. If it’s time to have the conversation about how (and where) your loved one will receive the care they need, start by asking these questions:
- What do they prefer? Sure, it’s easy to assume that all seniors want to live at home with statistics like the one we cited above, but the only way to be sure, is to ask. Start a dialogue with your loved one about what they want and be aware of how that conversation progresses. Meaning: make sure they are telling you what they want and not what they might want you to hear. It is not unusual for loved ones to try to minimize the “burden” for their family by compromising their own needs. It’s a lovely sentiment, but it doesn’t benefit anyone in the end, so open the conversation with a genuine, non-judgmental interest in what they want.
- Have they explored options? Even if a loved one is pretty sure they want to stay at home, it’s always helpful to see what the options are for living elsewhere. This can help them to solidify their preferences and decide what they can and cannot live with or without.
- What can you realistically provide? Life is busy and challenging and sometimes it’s not easy to provide the support we think we should. So, take an honest look at your own life and resources and be clear about what you can contribute to your loved one’s care. If they want to stay at home, how can you help with that? If they want to go to a senior living facility, what will that look like for you and how can you help support that?
- Can improvements be made to their home? If your loved one does want to stay at home, are there improvements that can be made to make it safer and more efficient for them? If so, how will those improvements be made and who will make them?
- Can someone move in with them? Assuming your loved one will stay at home, does or can the home accommodate a live-in caregiver? Who would that be? A family member? A family friend? A professional caregiver?
- Do they need regular medical care? The level of medical care that a person requires is a strong determining factor about whether it is realistic for someone to stay at home. Often, even if they need a lot of medical care, they can remain in their home, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of what is required, who can provide it and at what cost.
- Would they benefit from help preparing meals? Sometimes elderly loved ones simply need help with day-to-day tasks. Good nutrition is a key to a healthier, longer life and if you can help them gain or maintain that, it may make all the difference in their ability to stay happier and healthier at home, for longer. It’s worth looking atyour loved ones’ current eating habits and finding ways to support them, whether you are preparing freezer meals for them to reheat, or finding a personal chef to help, or hiring a nutritionist who can help develop a plan for consistently healthy eating.