When you are tasked with figuring out the best way to provide good care for Mom or Dad, the first step is to determine the level at which they are currently functioning. But, unless you are with your parents all day, every day for an extended amount of time, you may be a bit foggy about their limitations.
You want to look after them and keep them safe, but you don’t want to uproot them from their home and their neighbors unless it is absolutely necessary. If you believe that your elderly loved ones may need in-home care, you can use the following three assessments to get all of the information that you need to make an informed decision.
1. Schedule a Physician’s Assessment
The first stop on your path to getting the right information about your elderly loved one will be at the doctor’s office. He or she can be a neutral third party who will be able to provide you with an accurate idea of your loved one’s capabilities. And it doesn’t hurt that your parents will be more likely to heed the advice of a medical professional than their own family members. When you make the appointment with the doctor, be sure that you make it clear what you would like to discuss so that the doctor’s staff can schedule adequate time for this sometimes-lengthy dialogue.
2. Conduct an In-Home Assessment
Next, you should visit your parent’s home and take an honest look at how well the house will work as they age. Do not allow sentimentality to get in the way of this evaluation. This home may be the place where you grew up and created great memories with your family. However, if it is not safe for your parent, then they need to find a place that will enhance their senior years rather than act as a limitation.
You may want to check the following:
- Does Mom need to climb stairs to access essential parts of the home? Is there a way to move all living areas to the ground floor to keep her off of the stairs?
- How much would home modifications cost to make the house work better for your elderly parent? Don’t forget to include things like changing door knobs to door handles, installing grab bars in the bathrooms, and adding automatic turn-off switches for items like the stove.
- Is the area safe? The neighborhood of your childhood may have changed in the past 20 years. If the neighboring homes are becoming run-down and filled with unsavory people, it may no longer be safe for your elderly loved one to stay there alone.
- If your loved one were to need a wheelchair, could it fit through the doorways? Is there a way to easily get a wheelchair-bound person into the house?
- Are there interested neighbors close-by who would be happy to pop in for a visit or to provide basic help for the elderly? Don’t underestimate the value of those decades-long relationships. Small chores like getting the paper, taking trash cans to the curb, and checking the mail are often cheerfully done by neighbors.
3. Count the Cost
When you are talking about eldercare, it can feel crass to put it in terms of dollars and cents. However, if you are considering taking on a large portion of the care yourself, you would be wise to figure up exactly how much this job is going to cost. You should decide whether it makes better financial sense for you to hire someone to care for Mom part time, find a good assisted living community, or to quit working so you can do it yourself. And renovations to your loved one’s home may get pricey, depending on what needs to be done. Don’t forget to add that into your total cost for elder care.
The decisions surrounding eldercare are never easy when it’s your responsibility to care for Mom, but the 3 steps above can help you make an informed, objective decision for your elderly parent.