Looking after those that we love is a significant part of life for many of us, and it is something that is particularly important to get right for our parents and in-laws as they age. However, making the right choice for them and your family unit as a whole can be indescribably tough and wrought with emotional difficulties. With this in mind, check out the information collected below that will help you better understand the situation and the options that are available to you and your family.
Concerns about ageing loved ones
One of the primary motivators for asking questions about an ageing loved one's care is the concerns that their nearest and dearest have for them in their present life. Of these, medical issues are a huge part, and they will be discussed below. However, they are not the only worries that a family member can voice about their ageing parents. In fact, concerns over reduced mobility and the ability to take good care of themselves are often something that suggests the need for a conversation on elder care.
Also, family members are quite often worried about the potential side effects of their elderly parent living without any care and supervision. These side effects may include missing essential medications, or not eating a nutritious enough diet to remain healthy.
Many families also worry about the mental health effects that living alone and isolated can have on their ageing loved ones, and are concerned that they could become alienated and withdrawn. A problem that apart from being a miserable existence can also complicate pre-existing physical health issues. Something that means families need to be aware of the emotional well being side of things and consider them when discussing appropriate care.
Medical issues in ageing
Talking about health issues these are usually part of the reason that families begin to discuss care option for their elderly relatives. Such matters can be ones that are partially serious such as cancer, heart health, dementia, and arthritis, where the person concerned needs a particular level of care that they are not able to provide for themselves.
Then there are chronic conditions associated with age such as eye disease, obesity, diabetes that can cause a reduction in mobility and affect quality of life.
There are also issue such as gallstones, pressure sores, and hearing problems that are associated with ageing that can be a significant concern for families of old people. It is therefore vital that the family of the elderly be as informed about each one that their relative has as possible, and use this to help them decide on the best care option for them.
Types of care
Taking them into your home
Now, before anyone method of care can be decided upon the family needs to know exactly what options there are available.
The first one to consider is having your ageing relative move into the family home. This is a popular option for a number of reasons, the first being that it is often the cheapest, and families feel as if they are maintaining a connection with the parent.
However, this is not the right choice for every older person and every family. In fact, sometimes it can do more harm than good because it puts an additional strain on the family that they are moving in with, especially if the person that is caring for the children is also tasked with caring for the elderly relative as well. Also, some older relatives' condition will be medically serious enough that care in their family's home is not the most appropriate option for them.
Live in care
With that in mind, there are other possibilities to explore. One is the option of live in care where a professional carer is employed to visit the elders home and provide help with daily tasks, mobility, and even nutrition.
This form of care can be so useful because it allows the older person to stay in their own home, somewhere they are likely to have lived in for years, as well as meeting their friendships in the local area. Also, as many older people have cherished pets that are a vital part of their family, live in care ensures that they do not have to give these up when moving to a residential space. Something that can have a very negative effect on their mental health in the long term.
Of course, as people and situations are different there is no guarantee that live in care will be the best solution for your elderly relative either, but luckily there are still other option to expire. For example, if moving in with your family and having home care is not viable, why not consider an assisted living facility?
As we get older mobility can become a significant issue.
These facilities are specially designed to provide ease of access for older folks with limited mobility as well as regular visits from carers and medical staff. They work particularly well for those that have some medical problems that are more serious, and they can provide a sense of community and autonomy while ensuring that the person living there is well taken care of. This benefit is something that many relatives find useful because they know if they are in a supervised environment such as this they will not have to spend their days worrying about whether they are OK, lonely, or looking after themselves in the right way.
There is another option that is similar to assisted living that families with older relatives that are relatively free of severe medical conditions can also consider and it's a retirement community. These are communities that are designed with the over 60s in mind and are a cross between a small village and holiday camp.
Such communities often have a wealth of activities both physical and mental to entertain older residents during their day. Also, because everyone is in a similar boat in term of the stage of life they are in, they are wonderful places in which to make friends and be involved in a meaningful community.
Then there are nursing homes, which is what most people think of when they hear the term care. Nursing homes are slightly different to all the other type of care mentioned above because they provide a higher level medical care. That makes them best suited to those elders that are having significant difficulties with their health such as dementia, arthritis, and cancer.
Such homes usually employ trained medical staff as well as carers that can dispense medications on site and assess the need for further assessment quickly and efficiently. They are also the best fit for people with severe mobility issues as they will have access to lifting devices that make it much easier for them to maintain their personal hygiene and be as active as possible.
Of course, such facilities are usually some of the most expensive options, and private costs can easily run to double what families would pay if they took them into their own homes. However because of the level of medical care needed it is not always a matter of choice if the family want their elderly relative to receive the best care possible.
Now, some older people will need a high level of medical care for a short space of time such as when a pre-existing condition flares up, or they have had a hospital stay or surgery.
While a nursing home would provide the right level of care for them, this is not a place that they want to be in the long term, and they probably won't need to be either because their condition is likely to stabilize or improve. In this case, respite care can be the most appropriate option. Respite care is where your elder will stay for a short time in a nursing facility so they get the help and medical assistance that they need just for the time they require it.
Respite care can also be a good option for those carers that have their older relatives or even partners in their own home but need the occasional break. After all, caring for someone you love when you have other responsibilities and yourself to look after can be a mammoth task.
Last of all, a care option that some families may wish to consider is hospice or end of life care. A hospice is a medical institution where those that have terminal conditions can go to pass away in comfort and peace. Contrary to popular opinion these places are not depressing or sad for the most part, as the staff there are investing in making each day as fun as possible for the residents.
In conclusion, to care for your nearest and dearest as they age you need to do two things. The first is to assess their situation honesty including the concerns you have for their health and any medical conditions they have. The second is to compare this to the care options that are available. Also don't forget their emotional wellbeing too when you help your ageing relatives make their decision on how they will be cared for in the future.