Your parents have spent a lifetime celebrating, overcoming, loving, forgiving, and persevering together. You can’t think of one without thinking of the other. Yet one of them has declined and needs the benefits of a long-term care community and the other does not. What do you do?
Time to Evaluate and Talk About Differing Care Needs
As a caregiver, you may need to bring the family together and review the situation. Have any of the following been true for either Mom or Dad?
- Recent accidents or close calls, such as falls or medical scares
- A worsening chronic health condition
- Significant short-term memory loss
- Frequent failure to take medications
- Personality change
- Unkempt appearance
- Significant fluctuations in weight
- Withdrawal and increased isolation
The discussion needs to be honest, open, and positive. Be prepared and have some options ready to discuss.
Create a Care Network
Everyone, particularly your parents, may not be on board with a change in living arrangements, but there are some benefits that should be recognized during the discussion. For example, living apart may provide a much-needed break for the healthier member of the couple, who can now care for him or herself.
If several potential caregivers live nearby, you may be able to maintain and support your parents in two different locations. A schedule will need to be created for family and friends to visit and meet the needs of each parent.
Determine How The Marriage Relationship Will Continue
To ensure their relationship stays strong, married couples will want to visit each other frequently. Map out how and when the couple will be able to visit one another. Also, what activities can they still do together? Who will handle transportation for visits?
Keep a Watchful Eye on The Parent Remaining at Home
Separation after many years of marriage can be extremely traumatic. You may want to encourage the healthier parent to talk to clergy, behavioral health professionals, or become a member of a support group.
Whatever is decided, don’t let guilt, either your own or the guilt felt by the parent in the home, become overwhelming. Remind yourself and your family they are doing their best in a challenging situation.
If creating your own care network is not an option, consider the services of a care manager.
Consult a Care Manager
Senior care managers are members of a comprehensive team of healthcare professional who work with senior adults to improve and maintain their health wherever they may live.
The care manager knows the healthcare system and long-term care facilities. They can identify agencies and resources needed, and oversee professional care. Their involvement can be in-depth or simply as a one-time consultant, depending upon the needs. Aspects of their service include:
- Health care
- Psychological care
- Housing needs
- Home care services
- Nutritional services
- Assistance with daily living
- Financial and legal planning
- Advanced care planning, end of life care
- Government entitlement programs
- VA benefits
The care manager can provide family caregivers more time to manage their own lives and health, save the family money through their expertise in the managed care environment, and provide clarity and reassurance in the complex and emotionally draining decision-making process.
Another benefit of a care manager is that they are a well-trained and unbiased advisor who may not be as resisted or resented as a family member trying to determine what is best.
Finally, as the needs of both parents’ needs change, the care manager can adapt the plan of care to meet those needs and the needs of the family.
Acting as your parents’ primary caregiver is no easy task. Bethesda’s Care Management team is here to help. We create a customized senior care plan for each of our seniors and help families find the level of care that they need. Give us a call to get started or learn more.