It’s been said that ‘aging isn’t a luxury afforded to all’, and while there’s truth to that sentiment, under normal circumstances, age is something that comes for us each. No matter how much we exercise, how good we eat, or how much we spend on fancy creams, there’s no stopping time from catching up to you, or me.
So, when the time comes for hard decisions to be made for an aging loved one, just remember to take care of them the way you hope to be someday cared for.
● Explore The Options
When we picture getting older, most of us envision spending our days in the home we worked hard to afford, celebrating holidays surrounded by our children and grandchildren. And for lots of people, that’s exactly what life will look like in the Golden Years.
Aging in place is possible with the right approach, but that’s not a realistic option for some of us. Diseases, like dementia and Alzheimer’s, limited mobility due to old injuries or brittle bones, and other health conditions that require monitoring around the clock can be significant barriers to aging in place. For those who aren’t able to remain home, options like senior communities, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities will need exploring. The decision ultimately comes down to what is best for your aging loved one while taking these other factors into consideration
● Keep It Person-Centered…
The first thing to consider when supporting a care plan for an aging loved one is their preferences. The harder you work to honor their wishes, the less negative the experience will feel for everyone. If you’re actively trying to meet a loved one’s wishes, and they see that, it won’t feel so much as though they have no control. The goal is to make aging easier. This is supposed to be a time of peace. Do your best to honor that.
● But Don’t Forget Safety…
No matter what your loved one prefers, you have to consider safety. If they want to age at home, look for ways to improve their surroundings to make them safer. If they’re prone to falls, get them a life-alert system. Do they have a walker? Rearrange furniture or move their bedroom closer to the kitchen and bathroom to minimize obstructions.
Safety concerns aren’t limited to in-home care, either. Depending on your loved one’s medical needs, a nursing home might be the best solution. Accidents happen in these facilities, too, so before you place your loved one in a facility, have the number to a nursing home law center handy. And watch for signs of abuse, such as neglect or negative responses to certain caregivers. There are many highly qualified nursing homes and long-term care facilities out there but be sure to do thorough research as you explore these options.
● Or Ignore Financial Limitations
Throughout our lives, many of us make investments in anticipation of retiring but the reality is that aging is expensive and lots of people struggle with money later in life. Your loved one’s financial picture will have some bearing on how they spend their senior years. If they have an adequate source of income and limited debt, aging at home is very possible. To cater health care-related expenses, check out benefitting health insurance plans which cover home, travel, etc.
However, if they are stricken with health issues, have no significant source of income from retirement, or are ridden with debt, your options might be limited. Nursing home care is expensive and not usually covered by traditional Medicaid programs. Advise your loved one in advance to look into a long-term care insurance rider to make things easier down the road.
● Develop A Reliable Care Team
No matter if your loved one is aging at home or in a facility, it’s important to know who’s available for certain tasks. Medical appointments, household chores, and shopping, and financial support are all areas our loved ones will need our help in at some point. Take the time to learn what tasks your loved one needs assistance with and then seek out family members or paid professionals to take care of these tasks. Knowing your loved one is being properly cared for can make the process of aging less stressful for everyone involved.
Exercise caution, though. Be careful not to overextend yourself or anyone else as the burden of carrying for an aging loved one can be heavy. If you know for a fact there’s a task you can’t or won’t do, speak up. Make sure anyone who commits to being part of the care team knows that their role is important.
Everyone’s idea of aging looks different but it’s important to realize that hard decisions are part of the process. Knowing how to manage them can make the process more tolerable, at the very least.