Caregiver For Aging Seniors

When you find yourself being a caregiver for aging seniors, whether they are your parents or friends, you feel an awesome responsibility laden with fear, but also of wanting to do the right thing.  There are so many options available in a relatively unknown world that you’ve probably never had to face before, so you don’t feel you’re educated enough to make the decision, or help in that decision.  Nonetheless, this is the type of feeling most common as a caregiver for an aging senior.

Most people in the United States want to ‘age in place’ a term for staying in their own home until they die.  However, being able to accomplish this takes great creative thinking and a devotion to making some changes within the home – aging in place doesn’t mean aging in the same place in the same way the senior was accustomed to.  Though it’s a bit more ‘romantic’ to be surrounded by all their own things and thinking they’ll still have the freedom and privacy to do exactly as they still please, this is often not going to be the case for today’s aging senior.

So what are the options?  Many today feel they need to take care of their parents, because their parent’s cared for them.  There are opposing views here, as if you’re the adult child, you are most likely not qualified to take care of today’s aging seniors, who may need specialized medical, physical and/or emotional support and services.  Just as we may love our parents, children or even our pets, there are times to recognize that the care they need is more specialized, and beyond your ability to affect, no matter how much you love them.

Living in your home with you. When you find yourself continuing to worry daily, and this worry affects your work performance and personal life because the phone rings late at night and you’re now reacting to every little noise in life, considering moving your elderly parent or loved one into your own home is very natural. However, though the arrangement has some benefits like being less expensive to provide care yourself vs. paying for it, it’s a lot of responsibility to make sure they’re eating properly, taking their medications, bathing themselves properly, etc.  You need to ask yourself if you’re qualified to take this on, and what it will do to you and the rest of your family.

If your parent is still physically fit and mentally alert, then a multi-generational household just may work for you  — for now.  Mom or dad can help around the house or even contribute financially to the household, if you’re considering turning your place into more of a ‘family group home’.  Be prepared for the upside, but also consider the downsides, as you need to approach this situation without fantasy thinking, but reality considerations, challenging your own conventional wisdom and thinking as much as possible, before making this very big decision.

Assisted Living.  Over one million elderly seniors now live in assisted living facilities.  The design of this option is that living in a homelike group setting, with a multitude of services available, actually enhances and extends an older person’s ability to live with dignity.  Residents have private or shared rooms and get and pay for only the services they need or want.  Some services require an extra charge, but most all include meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, recreational activities, shopping assistance, and reminders to take medications.  Assisted living facilities do not provide medical care.

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