Helping to Care for Aging Parents
Many adults are finding that their aging parents are in need of health care assistance. Luckily, there are many options available today to help your parents grow old gracefully, either in their own home or in a facility, and several ways that you can finance the costs of the care.
Assisted living. If your parents are healthy seniors who can look after themselves, they generally are eligible to enter a continuing-care retirement community that allows them to buy or rent an apartment and ensures them lifetime nursing care when it is necessary. Another option for healthy seniors is private long-term care insurance, which can help cover nursing home costs or the cost of an in-home aide.
Living with family. Many families opt for moving an aging parent into their own home. If you are able to coexist peacefully with your parent, this may be a good idea because the arrangement frees you from worry about the upkeep of a second home. For parents with dementia or more serious health issues, adult day care is also an option and a good way to get your parent to socialize with other adults.
Living alone. When living together is not a workable plan, maintaining your parent in his or her own home is also an option. There are, however, several fairly expensive things that may be required to make a home environment safe and suitable for an aging person. Various safety features may be necessary, including first-floor bathrooms, grab bars in hallways and bathrooms, and a personal emergency response system in case your parent needs assistance while alone. If your parent is in need of daily assistance with meals or chores, he or she can apply for several services, such as Meals on Wheels, which may be free for anyone over 60. If your parent needs more personal assistance, you may want to look into hiring an in-home aide at a skill level appropriate for the amount of help needed.
Nursing home. If sending your parent to a nursing home is inevitable, make sure you research each home extensively. Reservations at the home selected should be made at least a year ahead of the time that you expect your parent will need it, as waiting lists are typically long at well-respected facilities. Keep in mind, too, that the government offers limited financial help for those families paying for nursing home care.
Online Support for Eldercare
The federal government's Administration on Aging offers a variety of print and online materials for elders, their families, and professionals regarding housing, medical, caregiving, and services for seniors.
ElderWeb has a rich collection of resources for the elderly and their caregivers on financial matters, health care, living arrangements, and social, mental, and legal issues.
There are other online support services, publications, and resources available that may meet your needs. Check your local library or senior services agency for information.