Your father died four years ago. Since then your mother has been living alone in their home in a gated community. She has always had an active social life, is mentally competent, and knows how to get help. She loves her home and has told you she wants to stay there forever.
Your mother has fallen three times in the past six weeks. Many of her friends have died or moved to retirement communities. At your urging, she has stopped driving.
What can you do?
You and your mother talk it over and decide to bring in in-home care services so she can safely remain on her own. You hire a home health aide to help with bathing and dressing. You arrange for para-transit services to take her to medical appointments. You install grab bars and a medical alert system. You come over almost every day to help with meals and errands and to keep her company. You ask your children to call more often.
While you are still concerned about your mother living alone, you know that the in-home care services and other supports provide the help she needs now.
Is in-home care right for your parents?
While your exact situation may be different from the above, many children of aging parents share concern over their parents’ increasing difficulties at home. Most seniors want to remain independent and stay in their homes, and many can, especially with in-home care services. But is that the best option for your parent?
Many families find it helpful to talk it through together. You can guide the conversation by considering questions such as these?
- What does your parent want? Does your parent value companionship, social activities, being alone, having meals prepared, intellectual stimulation, personal assistance, etc?
- What are the medical needs?
- Can in-home care services meet these needs and desires?
- How much help are you willing and able to offer?
- What are the likely consequences of remaining in the home? Are they acceptable?
- Where will your parent be the safest, most comfortable, and most content?
- What is the financial situation? What can the family afford?
If you can start the conversation about moving or staying at home with in-home care services before a crisis demands a decision, you will have more options. This is a process, so it may take a while, and it may be frustrating. Most families find it is worth the time it takes to make this important decision.