I Think Dad Needs Care - Where to begin?
Let me paint the picture:
You have been noticing that dad is no longer eating very much. The food in the refrigerator is not being used, dad is not changing his clothes, the soap in the bathroom is cracked and hard, shaving is a thing of the past and dad is moving slower than ever. Maybe dad is having trouble remembering things, but what alarms you the most is the charred towel in the kitchen that dad used to put out the small stove fire.
In the above scenario you have a parent that needs more support than is being provided and in some cases more support than will be accepted. Clearly this individual is not taking very good care of himself. He is likely losing weight, possibly a bit depressed and is likely not feeling well.
First and foremost, a medical exam is needed. A simple urinary tract infection in an elderly adult can impact their health, mental abilities, and quality of life dramatically. While that may not be the problem, do not assume that something medically is not going on. Have your parent checked out.
If you have ruled out a fairly quick-fix medical problem, you are facing general decline and the need for intervention. Be it Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or other health related issues causing deterioration in the ability to care for himself. It is time for intervention.
It can be a bit of a scavenger hunt to find the best solution, so you will want to approach seeking care with a plan.
Here are the recommended steps to take:
1. Determine your resources. By this, I mean financial assets. Long-term care is not free and cannot be acquired through Medicare. Figure out how much money is available, including the house and car, minus any debt. Knowing what assets are available will help you when considering options.
2. Determine if a long-term care policy exists. If there is no policy, you will need the assets you uncovered to pay for the care.
3. Determine the ideal situation for your parent. These are your choices, ranging in order from least restrictive to most controlled: adult day care, home care, independent apartment for the elderly, assisted living, nursing home.
4. Explore each one of your choices by finding out what the costs are for each level of care. Make a few quick phone calls. I recommend calling two organizations of each type. Any organizations will do, as the pricing is likely quite competitive in your market.
5. Consider each option and order them from most to least likely. (You will not be sure in this phase, you are exploring and ordering the opportunities.)
Is adult day care an option for your parent, while care givers are at work?
Will home care work for your parent? If your parent can get by with some intervention, but not round-the-clock care, home care may be a reasonable option.
Would an elderly apartment complexwith some services suffice?
Is assisted living with round-the-clock supervision needed for your parent to be safe?
Is a facility with all levels of care a good idea for your parent?
6. Select the first option in your list and find out what you can about the nuances of your choice. What does it cost per day, what services are included, what amount of time are you committed for, how long will your parent be able to stay with this type of service or situation.
7. Study organizations in your area before making a selection.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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