Your parents have finally reached that inevitable stage in life: old age. Now you and your siblings need to help them figure out the next few years—can they continue to live on their own, will they need someone checking in on them every day, or should they relocate to a retirement community or nursing home? Here are six things you must consider when making that important decision:
Getting old is hard, especially when you have to admit you can’t do things like drive yourself to the grocery store. Despite this difficulty, it is important to talk to your parents about the appropriate time to give up their driver’s license. You already have enough to worry about; don’t add car accident lawyers, like those at Cummings Andrews Mackay LLP., to that list.
If your parent needs to be driven everywhere they go, that might affect your decision about how to best care for them.
2. Medical Care
Every senior has different medical care needs. Some simply take several different medications a few times a day, while others need to be monitored around the clock. The amount of care your parent needs will make a big difference in where they decide to live. Evaluate your parent’s health and determine if they can manage on their own, or if they will need someone to look after them.
Also consider what would happen in the event of a medical emergency. It could be anything from a bad fall to a heart attack. Be sure your parent has a way of getting help if needed no matter where they live.
3. Social Life
Remember when you graduated college and all your friends started getting married? Then a few years later they all started having kids? Eventually, they will all become grandparents. Hopefully much later after that, they will start nearing the ends of their lives. Your parents are in that stage right now, and they’re probably keeping an eye out for familiar faces in the obituaries.
Loneliness is a very common problem with elderly individuals, especially if a spouse has died and kids have moved away. Even if your parent is completely independent, having them live on their own still may not be a good idea. Senior retirement communities help foster the residents’ social lives to keep them from feeling lonely.
If your parent is adamant about staying in their own home, consider getting them a pet to combat loneliness. As cliché as it sounds, a dog or cat can be a good companion to a person of any age.
4. Home Safety
If your parent want to remain in their own home or move into yours, make sure the location is safe and conducive to their needs. Here are some adjustments that may need to be made:
- Hand rails may need to be installed in the bathroom, shower, and on beds.
- Stairs are usually an impossible obstacle: make sure everything your parent needs is on the bottom floor.
- Fix any cracks or imperfections in flooring to keep your parent from tripping and falling.
- Make sure stairways and other areas are well-lit, especially at night.
- Put any items your parent uses in easy-to-access locations. Things that are too high or too low will be hard to reach.
One of the most important issues to consider when determining the best way to care for an aging parent is finances. What can you or your parents afford? You’ll have to find a situation that best fits the family’s needs while remaining within the available budget.
6. Caretaking Commitment
Can you or your siblings handle the commitment required to take care of your parent? Do you have kids at home that take up all your time? Do you live close enough to your parent to provide enough care?
You may feel like you are shirking your responsibilities as a child by placing your parent in a nursing home or retirement community. However, it is important to be honest and realistic about what you and your siblings can manage—and about what kind of care your parent needs. If you are having a hard time handling the situation, consider finding a family therapist to help you cope.
It’s hard to watch your parent get older and less independent, so you can imagine it is even harder for the parent who is going through the process. Keep this in mind as you make arrangements so you can find a situation that meets everyone’s needs and keeps everyone happy.