What are Your Options?
Caring for aging parents is a reality for many people. In fact, more than 78% of adults in need of long-term care depend on family and friends as their only source of help. Nursing homes can be an ideal solution for those who require around-the-clock medical care by a team of skilled professionals. But if your loved one doesn’t need this level of care, there are many great nursing home alternatives available.
Caring for Aging Parents Checklist
Take note of your loved one’s current condition. This checklist can help determine what the best nursing home alternative is right for your aging parent.
- Functional Mobility: Can your loved one get in and out of bed, in and out of chairs, and perform the movements associated with their everyday activities?
- Health and Medical Conditions: How is your parent’s overall health? Do they need regular care from a doctor or nurse for a current medical condition?
- Personal Hygiene: Is your parent able to bathe or shower, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, groom, and get dressed on their own?
- Household Tasks: Does your loved one have the ability to prepare meals, clean their home, and manage their finances?
- General Errands: Can your loved one complete necessary errands, such as grocery shopping, getting to appointments, or picking up medications?
Once you understand the needs of your aging parent, you can start to consider your options, including these alternatives to nursing homes.
1. Living at Home
For a parent with good mobility and no serious medical conditions, making some modifications to their living space can offer independence in the comfort of their own home.
- Are doors at least 36 inches wide so wheelchairs or walkers can fit through?
- Does the entrance to the home have steps or other tripping hazards? If so, consider having a ramp installed.
- Do you need to add arm rails throughout the house to help with balance and mobility?
- Is the bathroom equipped with a shower seat, grab bars and a non-slip shower mat to avoid falls?
Picking up a few additional items, such as a grabber/reacher tool, magnifying glass, battery-operated touch lights for use in easy-to-reach places, and night lights to illuminate hallways or other dark places, are small but effective ways to increase the safety and functionality of the home.
Medical Alert System
Medical alert systems can provide much-needed peace of mind for those with aging parents living at home alone. They enable your loved ones to contact emergency services at the touch of a button if they need assistance. The buttons are typically available in either a bracelet or necklace style and are lightweight and comfortable for daily wear. Some models also have built-in fall detection to automatically sense a fall and call for help.
2. Living with You
In some cases, caring for your aging parent at your home is the best option. Whether you’re preparing a room in your home or an auxiliary space, such as a guesthouse, this arrangement offers your loved one the comfort and connection that being with family brings.
Mother-in-law suites or guesthouses can work well for those whose parents are high-functioning and mobile but may need some assistance from you throughout the day.
MedCottages are small, fully equipped modular homes that have remote monitoring capabilities and can be made to fit in your garage or backyard. This is a good option for family members who need extra care or 24/7 monitoring.
If you decide to have a parent live with you, be sure to review the tips outlined in the section above to prepare your home according to your parent’s needs.
3. Part-Time Care
There are many options to help lighten your load as the primary caregiver. Whether your parent is living in their own home or with you, in-home senior care, adult day care, and respite care can provide part-time support for caregivers who work during the day, or for those times you need a break to run errands, go out of town, or to simply rest and recharge.
These services can help with bathing and hygiene, tasks around the house, medication management, transportation, and companionship, and can be arranged whenever you need them.
4. Assisted Living Communities
Ideal for those who need healthcare monitoring and assistance with daily activities assisted living communities can help your aging parent with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. They also provide healthcare monitoring, housekeeping, medication management, activities and entertainment, and transportation.
Similarly, for seniors who have a good level of independence, but require some assistance from time to time, continuing care retirement communities can be an ideal option. Continuing care retirement communities typically offer fewer services than assisted living communities, but can help with bathing, hygiene, medical care, housekeeping, emergency services, and transportation.
Nursing homes aren’t the only solution for your aging parent. With a good understanding of your loved one’s needs, you can make an informed decision on the type of care that’s best for them—and for you.