As we’ve mentioned before in previous TMH Client Profiles, at Take My Hand At-Home Care we hear often from adults who are wondering when and how to decide that mom or dad needs a higher level of personal care and attention.
These certainly are not easy decisions to make, and every situation is different. But read on for an example situation that may include elements of what you’re going through. Perhaps it will help you make those important decisions.
Mom is still pretty active. She lives nearby, so sometimes I accompany her to doctor visits in Bellingham or take her shopping, but she typically can do those things just fine on her own.
The other day, when we were working in her garden, she mentioned that she loves her home — she’s lived in the same home in Lynden for 50 years, after all — and doesn’t want to leave. When she eventually needs care, she said, she wants to stay at home. She doesn’t want to be moved to a long-term care center or assisted living facility; she’d rather just stay right at home.
The problem is that I’m not able to spend the time caring for her that probably would be required. I have a family of my own to care for, and I have to go to work every day, too. How can I meet mom’s desires to stay home while also being sure that she’s taken care of? Sometimes it keeps me up at night.
This is a common concern. Adults in the sandwich generation — those who are sandwiched between caring for aging parents and caring for their own young children — often find themselves having to make difficult decisions about how to spend their time and money. Do I sacrifice my family time to spend evenings and weekends caring for mom? Do I dip into our family savings to pay for upgrades to mom’s home so she can age in place? How do I even know when mom is ready for extra assistance around the home?
No single solution is a perfect fit for every family here in Whatcom County. However, there are some good options for adult children in situations like this to consider:
- Set up a consultation with a home care provider to discuss your situation. A trained provider with experience in at-home care situations can take a look at your loved one’s situations and offer personalized advice. Take My Hand offers complimentary in-home assessments for folks in Lynden, Ferndale, Bellingham and throughout Whatcom County.
- Ask an at-home care provider for part-time shifts to cover basic needs. This would help your mom or dad get used to the idea of having people other than family members in the home. Plus, part-time home care would help set a baseline for the care needed. At-home care situations can be new for everyone, and starting off slowly is often a good idea.
- Caregivers like us are fond of saying that the best caregivers are those who are able to care for themselves and meet their own needs. Honestly, that’s critically important. If you, as a family caregiver, are constantly giving and never receiving, you’re going to run your own batteries so low that you won’t be able to help anyone. Please know that your family — spouse, kids, yourself — needs and deserves your attention, so don’t feel guilty if you can’t be with your aging parent as much as they might like.
- Independence and self-sufficiency are good things for older adults. We try to keep them from becoming reliant on outside help too early; if they can do something for themselves, let them and encourage them! Of course, pay close attention to signs that they might need extra help — increasing bouts of forgetfulness, difficulty getting around, declining eyesight, lack of ability to process and understand doctors’ orders, etc. — and step in when necessary, but don’t feel obligated to help just because your parents are getting older.
- Now is a great time to start considering payment options for long-term care. You never know what you might need in the future, and how much it might cost. Consider your family financial situation and the amount of money mom and dad have saved up and start investigating options that might work for you. Long-term care insurance can be a good choice, as can Medicare and private-pay options.
If you’d like to have a discussion about any of these aspects of eldercare in Whatcom County, please feel free to give us a call or send an email.