Managing Two Homes as a Caregiver
“I am working full time and am doing my best to help my father out. He insists on staying in his home, which I completely understand. But how do I get everything done? Dad needs my help throughout the year to cut grass, pull weeds, grocery-shop, shovel snow, repair the house, etc. It feels like I have two homes.
If I ask Dad to hire someone he says he will, but he never does. He would rather wait for me to come around. I can’t afford to hire someone to do the work for me, and Dad refuses to pay for it. I feel like I am caught between a rock and a hard place. What should I do?” – READER
You certainly do have two homes to maintain right now. It is likely that your list of chores and tasks will grow larger as time goes on, so it is a good thing you are looking for solutions now.
I would start by exploring your father’s financial situation. If he is truly in a place where he has no financial resources besides social security, there may be local, state or, insurance assistance available to him. Even if he has assets, it is worth looking into because some Medicare Advantage plans provide services that are not considered traditional home care. This is a new, value-added service provided by these plans, so you would need to check your father’s Medicare plan. This offering is not income-dependent and is, again, definitely worth checking out.
While you are clearly very busy, I recommend calling your local department of aging. They are well aware of resources in your area for assisting the elderly. In the state I live in, there are funds available for individuals with limited income for some of the tasks you do for your father. You see, the goal of each state is to help the elderly “age in place” and avoid nursing home or assisted living placement. The longer your father stays in his home, the better, as he is less likely to require Medicaid to pay for his care.
You mentioned tasks like shopping, lawn care and snow removal. The good news is that there are numerous ways to maximize your productivity and minimize your required effort in these areas. To save time in the store, you could transition to an online grocery delivery service, of which there are many cost-effective options. And even if you prefer doing these things yourself, do not forget there are plenty of landscaping and snow removal services available. You may not be able to outsource this work all the time, but doing so can feel like a life-saver when you’re in a pinch. I recommend exploring any solution that improves your efficiency, as time is our most valuable asset.
If your father has the money for maintenance but refuses to spend it, there may be reasons for his resistance other than cost. Does your father have poor hearing, vision or difficulty processing information? He may not feel comfortable making arrangements because of these or other limitations. He may be receptive, instead, to you hiring the services for him with the funds he has available. It is not uncommon for an aged individual to rely on a child to make arrangements for services.
You are doing your best to protect your father and the asset that is his home. Although maintaining two homes can be taxing, a bit of time and effort spent acquiring outside help will go a long way toward improving both your father’s and your situation.
I wish you success on this journey.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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