Choosing the right place to live for an aging parent is not easy. Many factors figure into the equation. Some within your control, some not. Common sense tells you their safety and well-being should be priority. However; you will find common sense pretty much goes out the window. Finances, available beds, funding, and available services will become a much bigger part of your decision. Emotions run very high during these times. The better prepared you are the less stressful it will be on you and your family.
Keeping in mind that every person has individual circumstances it is hard, if not impossible, to lump things together. I’ve decided to start with housing options. Over the next couple of posts I will cover each in a little more detail. When I can, I will point you in the direction of a website or agency that will hopefully assist you with individual questions.
Having a plan in place is key. Situations change, sometimes rapidly. What is safe today may not be in a month from now. What is right for one person might not be right for another. Explore your options before they are needed.
Living At Home – Some people are physically and mentally able to live safely in their own homes. Family may live close by or with them to help with heavy chores. Homemaking or home health aides assist with daily needs.
Senior Housing – Apartment complexes designed specifically for seniors. Many are high rise apartment buildings with handicap ramps, elevators, and security cameras at exterior doors. Some also have full-time security to patrol grounds. Rent may be based on income.
Congregate Housing – Individual apartments for residents but a common dining area where meals are served. Other shared areas may include laundry, recreation rooms, and library. There may be on site guidance for residents and families who are in need of services. There may also be 24 hour security in case of emergency. No medical personal on site. Rent may be based on income. Meal cost is added to rent and paid monthly.
Living With Family – When living alone is no longer an option some parents are able to move in with children or other family members. Things to consider with this option are, available room, handicap access to house, rooms, tub etc…, lack of privacy, personal safety.
Assisted Living – Room options for assisted living can be private or shared. There are more services available for residents then with congregate housing, but it is reflected in the cost. Experience has taught me you need to have a big bank account or family who can afford to pay rent in one of these facilities. The services are all-inclusive and there are usually medical personnel on site.
Long Term Care Facilities – We all know these as retirement homes or nursing homes. Some are great. Some are absolute pits of despair. Patient services may vary from home to home depending on level of care offered. Homes are staffed with RNs, CNAs, Housekeeping, Dietary, Laundry, Maintenance, and other teams of professionals. Visit homes individually, look up safety ratings, ask for references. They will be responsible for the safety and care of your parents.
Long Term Care, Secure Units – These may be found within a long-term care facility. There is a smaller resident to caregiver ratio. These units are for patients suffering from advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s. They are locked units to insure patients can not wander away and get lost. You or an appointed person in your family will need to make decisions for your parents, as they are not mentally capable of doing so. Because of the high level of care needed, it is important to have a good line of communication with the staff.
These are the care options I have come across in my area. There may be others where you or your family live. Please pass them along so others can learn. Knowledge may be the only power you have if a situation arises.