It is quite understandable that your parents want to retain their independence and stay in their home for as long as possible and with options like Home Care Assistance, there is a good chance that you can put off that “big decision” for a few more years.
Doing what’s best for mom and dad
There is no doubt that with very few exceptions, all of us simply only want to do what is best for their ageing parents and the emotional attachment and bond that exists, means that there is always a great deal of discomfort in making decision which can have a profound effect on their future.
Getting old is an inevitability that we all have to contend with and your elderly parents are at a point in their life where they are not as physically strong or mentally agile as they once were, which creates a very real dilemma.
You almost certainly want them to stay in their own home where they are happy and settled, but you will also have plenty of concerns about their ability to cope on their own, which creates an inevitable conflict between autonomy and safety.
Questions to ask
For many children with elderly parents to think about, the deterioration in their physical abilities and the cognitive limitations are things that we witness over a period of time rather than being a rapid slide.
This creates a lot of anxiety in terms of getting the timing of your decisions right and you don’t want to leave it so late that they end up coming to harm as a result of an accident in their own home, but you don’t want to hurry them into a care home too quickly either.
The best starting point is often to conduct a review of their ability to continue living independently and carry out an assessment to see just how elder-friendly their house is and what can be done to improve it.
If you invite an occupational therapist to your parent’s home, they can help to inspect their home in order to identify any specific safety concerns and suggest ways to make their home safer, so that they can live there more easily.
What you are trying to do is get some professional help in identifying your parent’s current and future needs.
You need to look at what level of care your parents need throughout the day and what aspects of daily life they are currently able to cope with without any assistance. Regular daily activities such as food preparation and cooking, bathing and toileting are key considerations and you need to evaluate how much time and care you can offer and how much professional help they might currently need.
All of their current abilities and disabilities need to be reviewed on a regular basis so that they get the level of care and attention needed. There is help available in the form of in-home care, adult day services and assistance with transportation, so reach out and find out what help is available to you and how it matches the current needs of your parents.
Your ultimate aim is to allow your parents to live independently at home and therefore you want to try and find as many services and technologies as possible that could enhance their standard of living and allow to retain their independence.
It is invariably a network of support and then using some tech innovations such as automated pill dispensers to monitors and webcams, so that help is on the other end of the line if and when it is needed.
Practical issues such as adapting their bathroom and kitchen can also make a huge difference.
Although you may not want to contemplate the fact that your parents won’t be able to look after themselves at some point and this includes having the mental capacity to deal with their finances for example, it is better to be proactive and think of their needs in advance.
Always try to have a full and frank discussion with your parents about what you want to do for them talk about issues such as Durable Power of Attorney, so that you can help them manage their finances and pay bills.
There are now plenty of ways to let your parents stay in their own home for longer, so try to explore all the options so that you give them the love and care that they deserve.
Ronnie Hills has cared for her own ageing parents plus her Mother-in-law. She hopes to offer support and give helpful, usable tips for others in the same situation to use. Her articles have been published on elder care blogs and related sites.