Whether it’s a grandparent, parent, or another loved one, it’s likely that each of us will one day face the decisions and difficulties that come with caring for an aging loved one. Between health care, nursing homes, and even life-or-death decisions, caring for an aging loved one is one the toughest things we’re ever asked to do. Thankfully, with the help of professionals, we can at least rest assured that we’re making the best decisions we can with the information we have.
Aging means increased chance of illness and injury – and increased healthcare costs
As we age, our bodies grow more fragile. Aches and pains make it harder for older folks to exercise, and that leads to muscle atrophy. The odds of serious illness rise as we age, and our immune systems weaken, too. The result is that older people have a higher risk of injury and illness, and therefore a higher risk of ending up in the hospital.
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot that we can do to prevent our loved ones from growing old and taking on these risks. The best thing to do is to prepare for the possibility that we may need to rush our loved one to an urgent care facility or a hospital. It’s a good idea to set up a system with your loved one that allows them to quickly request help if they need it. A mobile phone is good, but a product like LifeAlert is better.
You can also take steps to make your loved one’s home safer. Handrails and ramps can help, as can a transition to one-story living. Moving to a warmer climate isn’t within everyone’s means, but it can be a helpful way to avoid icy slip-and-falls – while also making more of the year available for relaxing outdoors.
To stay or not to stay in the home
One of the toughest decisions the elderly must make it whether or not to stay in their homes – and, often, loved ones are involved in this decision as well. Whether or not your loved one should still live in their home depends on their health and mobility – as well as their means. If a home is a danger to your loved one, or if they can’t get by without around-the-clock care, it may be necessary to move them to a nursing home or specialized facility. In other cases, you may be able to offer your loved on the chance to move in with you – this is a good idea only if everyone is happy with the arrangement and if the primary reason for concern is supervision, not around-the-clock care.
There are also companies and organizations that offer elder care services to help keep seniors in their homes, and these are well worth looking into if you have the budget for them. By working with one of these organizations, you could get care and support for your loved one and give them the ability to stay in the home that they recognize and love.
If you and your loved one do decide that it’s best to look into nursing homes and other facilities, keep specific needs in mind. Many homes are designed to cater to elderly people with specific needs – for instance, there are memory care communities for those with memory issues and related diseases. While these facilities sometimes cost more than traditional nursing homes, they can better cater to your loved one’s specific needs.
Rely on the professionals
Making decisions like these is tough, but even tougher decisions await in end-of-life care. You may be responsible for making crucial care decisions when your loved one is no longer able to, and you may even be tasked with deciding whether or not to let your loved one go. Nothing can make these decisions easy, but the best advice is to rely on the input of the medical professionals that ask you for these answers. They’ll give you as much information as they can, and you’ll need to trust in their judgment and your own decision-making. Remember that everyone involved – including you – is acting out of compassion and love and doing their very best with all their information they have. These decisions aren’t easy, but when you put your heart into making them, you can rest easy knowing you made the right call.