Caring for an aging loved one can be challenging. As you think through your options, you’ll probably have a lot of questions.
Here are five questions to help you start to navigate the decision-making process:
1. Should my parent or loved one move in with me?
Some adult children plan to open their home to parents who can no longer live on their own. Before you decide on this option, think through both the logistical and emotional factors.
You may need to modify your home so its entryways, lighting and furnishings are more senior-friendly. You will also need to devote time to caring for your loved one, who may need assistance with tasks such as managing medications. Depending on what kind of care your loved one needs, you may need to research available resources in your community to assist with tasks you may not be able to handle.
You should also consider the costs associated with modifications to your home and for home care workers.
For some, having a loved one share their home offers emotional rewards and a meaningful chance to bond. For others, the role reversal that often occurs when you become the one in charge can strain the relationship. Talk openly with your loved one about these issues. You may also want to seek help from a spiritual adviser or counselor.
2. Is my family prepared to make this decision?
Sometimes spouses, adult children and other family members have differing opinions about long-term care options for their loved ones. You and your family may need to discuss how to communicate and work together in arriving at this decision.
If you and your family are not on the same page, consider speaking with a trusted adviser who is not emotionally invested in the outcome. A spiritual adviser, physician or counselor can help families come together to support their loved one while making a decision about the most appropriate living situation.
3. What type of senior living community does my parent need?
There are two issues to consider when making this choice: health care needs and emotional needs.
In terms of health care, different communities offer different levels of care services. The first step in answering this question is to understand the kind of care your loved one needs today and then think about how those needs may change with age or the progression of any chronic illness. Speaking to your loved one’s doctor can help.
Your loved one might need help with daily activities, short-term rehabilitation after an illness or injury, skilled nursing for chronic ailments, or memory care for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. A continuing care retirement community provides multiple levels of care, allowing residents to remain in one community as their care needs change.
Each community has its own culture, offers its own life enrichment programming and has different levels of social interaction. At all of our communities, we provide person-centered, quality care, focused on the whole person and designed to foster engagement, so people can live every day to the fullest.
Use this resource to help understand the different levels of care available and schedule a visit to experience one of our communities.
The goal is simple: Loved ones should feel that they’ve found a new home, and you should feel secure knowing they will be well cared for.
4. How will my loved one pay for senior living?
Assisted living and memory care are typically private pay; the resident pays for services. Skilled nursing can be paid for by Medicare, Medi-Cal (Medicaid), private insurance or private pay, depending upon the situation.
You will likely need access to your loved ones’ financial records to see what resources they have available to cover the cost of care. They may have enough assets to pay on their own, whether that means selling their home, using a long-term care insurance policy or other savings. Financial advisers can be a valuable source of information.
There are also many financial resources available that help make senior living affordable.
5. Have we dealt with the necessary legal matters?
You will need to evaluate whether all of the proper legal documents are in place. This includes a will, end-of-life documents like an advance directive, and powers of attorney for health and finance. If these aren’t in place, now is a good time to work with a lawyer to create them.
Once the documents are in place, make sure your family knows who is responsible for financial matters and for making important health care decisions if your loved one cannot act on his or her own behalf. Family members should also know how to contact the attorney and where these documents are stored. Many people leave copies with the lawyer or in a safe-deposit box.
To answer all these questions and more, contact us to set up a discussion.
Here are some helpful guides:
California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
11 Signs it Might be Time for Assisted Living by Caring.com
Geriatrics and Extended Care by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Nursing Homes: Making the Right Choice by the National Institute on Aging
Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home or Other Long-Term Care by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
A variety of other resources are available from the National Institute on Aging and the National Center for Assisted Living.