If you have aging parents we are all dealing with the guilt of spending enough time, doing enough to make life easier by cooking, cleaning, yardwork, shoveling…it goes on and on. While you are working. While you are planning your own retirement, or trying to enjoy your retirement. We are feeling the pressure of giving back to the very people that raised us. So, what can you do? You can better understand the process of aging and find some help.
It is a natural process that we need more help with things as we age.
Our parents have three ways of dealing with this:
- They don’t pay attention to their bodies and think they can still do what they did at 40. So mom climbs that step stool onto the sink counter and changes that light bulb, falls and ends up in ER with a broken hip. Then comes surgery and a rehab stay of 3 months in a nursing home (you can call it a rehab center but it’s still a nursing home) and then she’s home and paranoid about doing anything again.
- They DO pay attention to their body but dad thinks he can’t do anything and calls his kids every day to come and do it. This is obvious if you are in the situation now!
- You never hear anything from them (except “I haven’t seen you in awhile”) and when you visit they seem/act perfectly fine. But the house isn’t clean, there’s old food in the fridge and they wear the same clothes all the time. So you clean while trying to visit with them, all the while asking, “Mom you didn’t eat this did you?”
These are the most common. I’m sure there are many other situations in between. Now what do you do? Here comes the guilt.
You know your parents could use some help and you feel guilty yourself that you are not able to give them what they need right now. IT IS OK and YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I guarantee that they felt the same way when their own parents aged and they were faced with caring for them. The good thing is that there are many more options available to help you now. Let’s look at the advantages of some:
You can hire out house cleaning, lawn care, snow plowing, lifeline, Meals on Wheels, and personal care worker for 2 hours per day. That is up to 6 different strangers coming in IF your parents are ok with that. Most are not. Get ready for the phone call that it costs too much and “I can clean my own house”. Check the freezer. The Meals on Wheels containers will be stacking up and you go back to making extra meals and dropping them off.
It’s also important to watch for things missing, your parents change in mood or looking to any of these people for decision making. These things are real when inviting un-licensed strangers into your childhood home to take care of your parents. Just because someone seems nice and has done this all their life does not mean it’s right for your Mom or Dad. Get references and make sure you call them.
Home Health Nursing Services
This is beneficial when there is an illness or injury that is short term. Your parents will need to see the Doctor for an order to get this service and it is covered by Medicare. A nurse will come to the house, therapy and a certified nursing assistant caregiver. Again, this is only short term and they are limited on how many times they can visit and how much time they can stay. This service is ordered many times after a nursing home rehab stay if you choose not to admit your parent into assisted living and they want to go right home. NOTE: services also are available at assisted living after rehab in addition to the care the facility provides and it’s covered by Medicare.
Assisted living in Wisconsin is regulated by the State and has strict clear regulations to follow in providing care. It is a good alternative to a nursing home if your parents do not need 24/7 skilled nursing care. That means there is no emergent healthcare need that requires a nurse to be there to handle. Such as giving IV’s, monitoring for seizures or severe pain control. There are three types of assisted living:
1. Apartments: Residential Care Apartment Complex (RCAC)
These are full apartments in a building with staffing 24/7. The staff will check on your parents in the morning and help them get dressed if needed and bring them their medication on time (because you know they are not taking it right themselves). There is a dining room where all the meals are served so you know they are eating well. You also know they are talking with people their own age who can relate to this stage of life and they can support each other. There are activities throughout the day if they want to attend, or they have their own apartment if they are not social. You may not hear from them and have to call ahead if you’re going to visit. They may have way too many things going on that day to take the time for you…ahh success!
2. CBRF: Community Based Residential Facility
You will find these facilities are different depending on the company that runs them. Some are small independent owners and others are large state or nationwide corporations. There is a mixture of people living here and a mixture of reasons why they are there. It could be dementia, a physical reason (stroke, etc.), chronic illness or disease – many reasons. Most units have a private bath but no kitchen in the room. Meals are provided as well as activities. You really have to visit each place to see what fits your parents needs and likes. CBRF’s are a great alternative to nursing homes if they don’t need skilled care because the cost is half that of a nursing home. Many times families will just have their parents stay at the nursing home after rehab because they are adjusted there. However at $10K a month for a nursing home shared room, their money doesn’t last very long! I personally think it’s a dignity issue if my parent is in a CBRF assisted living with elderly that have dementia and/or dementia behaviors. It’s uncomfortable for everyone, especially when your parents have visitors.
3. Memory Care CBRF
There are facilities licensed by the State of Wisconsin as a CBRF that serve only those with memory problems. If your parent has memory difficulty, a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia this is the best and newest option for you! If you find a good one, the staff will be trained specially to care for your Mom or Dad and there will be enough staff there to care for everyone. You know when you need this care. It’s when you are worried about leaving their house because you are not sure if they are safe. It’s when your Mom or Dad are exhausted and cranky because they aren’t getting any sleep taking care of eachother (Mom’s up all night wandering around). Take this Risk Assessment Quiz to see if your parent or family is member ready for Assisted Living/Memory Care. One thing to remember: ANYONE of these CBRF’s or nursing homes can claim they are a Memory Care or have a Memory Care wing. Do your research and ask for references from past family members or ask people when you’re visiting. Make sure the staff in a Memory Care knows how to handle behaviors associated with dementia because it will happen! Nobody ever wants to see their parent with an unusual behavior but if you are going through this right now you know exactly what I’m talking about. A good Memory Care will never use the word “NO”. The staff is trained to know how to divert the behavior or that person’s attention to something else.
4. Nursing Home
This is your last option and here’s why. Nursing homes are perfect for after surgery when your parent needs intense physical therapy to recover, or if they have had a stroke, etc. It is not the place you want them to live out their life if there is another option with less sterility and institutional feel. Nursing care is very good if you need skilled nursing supervision for a disease or serious illness. It is not the place to live if you just had some of things I mentioned and are now recovered from it. Again, do your research and be the advocate for your parents and find them the best alternative care to being home.
We don’t say “Home is where the heart is” for nothing. I’ve met Seniors that are “Home” in all the facilities above, even after a month of living there (including nursing homes). Is this a fun process to go through with your parents? Absolutely not. But it absolutely creates a peaceful family life for them and for you.
The Cottages Assisted Living & Memory Care is committed to providing excellence in care, keeping our tenants/residents total well being the primary focus. Drop the Guilt! You will be able to leave knowing your loved one is living in a safe, secure, loving family environment.
If you’re ready to discuss more, contact us for a risk-free consulatation!