Having an elderly parent or caring for an elderly loved one (even as a spouse) is a growing concern for more and more people as the population ages. Scientific and technological advances have increased the average life span, meaning many who have elderly loved ones need options for their care. For most families, a nursing home is the last resort. Fortunately, there are plenty of other alternatives to nursing homes.
If you have an elderly parent, you may have become increasingly aware of their decline. Tasks they once managed with ease seem to take more time and effort now. It’s a natural part of life, but it can still be troublesome. To keep an eye on your parent, you and your siblings can take turns stopping by or spending the afternoon with them. It doesn’t cost anything other than time.
Perhaps none of your siblings live close enough to be able to do that. Check with friends or neighbors. Remember when your kids were young and your group of friends had a babysitting co-op? The same principle could work for your aging parents. Everybody takes turns and the elderly individuals make new friends.
There’s a chance that your elderly loved one already lives with you. In that case, it may just be a matter of finding some help while you’re at work during the day. One low cost alternative is adult day care. It’s just like it sounds. The elderly go to a designated facility where they are cared for until you pick them up after work. Again, this provides the added benefit of social interaction.
Companionship care falls along the same lines as taking turns with friends or family, but instead of the care being free, you hire the companion. Companions come into the home where the elderly person lives and keeps them company throughout the day. Sometimes companions are home health workers with some medical training and other times they are people who make money spending time with the elderly, without medical training. This is an important distinction.
A caregiver is someone who can help an elderly person manage medication, use the bathroom, get dressed, or bathe. They may also help with household chores. A companion may help with household chores and engage the elderly person in some activities like going for a walk or playing a game, but they are not trained to handle medical matters.
To someone unfamiliar with senior living communities, assisted living and nursing homes may be interchangeable terminology. However, they are vastly different. A nursing home provides round the clock medical care to residents. Most nursing homes require a prescription from a doctor before residents are admitted. Assisted living facilities, on the other hand, do not provide full time medical care. Residents may need help with daily living activities and medication management, but overall they are in good enough health to get out of bed and participate in life. Many seniors find assisted living to be like dorm life revisited and enjoy all the activities and convenience associated with living on the premises.
The important thing is to find the alternative that best suits the needs of your loved one.