How To Deal With Your Aging Parents - A Caring Guide

by Adam Wilson

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Your parents are getting older. It's inescapable, and brings with it some questions and concerns for the future. If the only question that springs to mind is "When will I have to put them in a nursing home?" you may be missing some necessary information on elder living and care options.

As they age, your parents are likely to want to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. Some advance planning will give you a better idea for how to care for and deal with your aging parents.

Caring For Your Aging Parents at Home

Your parents may have already decided that nothing would be more enjoyable than living out their days exactly where they are. They love the family home, the seasons, the community, and close-by relatives. Right now they are in perfect health, but recognize that as they age they might require more help and more health care. So, how do you deal with this?

Home care services cater specifically to the needs of these aging adults. More than 7.5 million Americans currently receive home care, and agencies provide a variety of services. Health aides can provide assistance with basic activities of daily living like dressing, eating, bathing, and walking. Homemakers are available for grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry. Skilled nursing is an option, as are physical, occupational, and speech therapists if necessary.

Community Care for Your Aging Parents

Your aging parents may have reached a point where dealing with the upkeep of the family home becomes a hassle, and downsizing is an attractive option. A friend of your parents mentions a condo for sale next to hers down in Florida, and it turns out three other couples your parents know are in the same complex.

Twenty-seven percent of American seniors live in naturally occurring retirement communities. A friend tells a friend tells a friend, and 10 years later, everyone in the complex is over 60, and half the people on the golf course moved from the same part of Michigan. Real-estate developers caught on to the trend, and now market many new developments as age-restricted, requiring residents to be over 55 or over 62.

Restricted or not, retirement communities are oriented toward an active lifestyle and busy, energetic seniors. They might offer golf, tennis, a swimming pool and spa, exercise rooms and a variety of clubs and interest groups. These complexes often see seniors band together and develop access to services like in-home care to help residents maintain a high quality of life, and stay in the community as they age.

Senior independent living communities are also age restricted and cater to active, healthy adults, but in addition often provide housekeeping, laundry facilities, linen service, a restaurant and a clubhouse or lounge available for parties. These communities often take a more active role in helping seniors find home care services when necessary.

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More Care for Aging Moms and Dads

Eventually your aging parents may need more care and assistance than is feasible or affordable in any of the above environments. If they still retain their zest for life and want to maintain their passions, hobbies and interests, an assisted living facility might be an attractive option.

Assisted living can provide your aging parents with the same independence and similar amenities, but will offer more robust solutions to those who need everyday assistance. Assisted living facilities can be as large as an apartment complex with 400 residents, or as small as a house shared by six or eight.

Regardless of size, an assisted living facility will provide at least two daily meals for its residents, a daily resident check-in, weekly housekeeping services and daily assistance with activities like dressing and bathing. It will also offer health services related to the administration of medication.

These facilities focus on personal privacy and self-sufficiency. Seniors will have their own room or apartment, and complete discretion around how they spend their days. They will have access to a kitchen (communal in a house, private in an apartment) and if seniors would rather not cook, the facility will offer menu choices for each meal.

Medical Care For Aging Parents

Dealing with a major illness or surgery to your aging parents isn't easy, and significant medical care and 24-hour nursing supervision may be required. This is where nursing homes come into their own. Nowhere but a hospital can provide similar expertise and staffing levels. A return to assisted living may be appropriate down the line, but as a bridge between hospital care and prior health, nursing homes can provide intensive rehabilitation services that other elderly care options cannot. These facilities can also be the best option when medical and nursing care will be required long term and another elder housing environment is no longer sufficient.