Updated: Jul 20, 2021
Once you’ve attained the clarity we discussed in Part 1 of our series and have finally come to the decision that a higher level of care is needed for your loved one, the next step is getting your aging parent to also be on board with your assessment and that you’re on the same page. No one wants to ever feel blindsided or that the rug is being pulled from underneath them. Regardless of their age and capabilities, everyone wants to feel like their opinions matter and that their ideas and preferences are carefully considered.
Taking the time to sit down with your loved ones and having authentic conversations about what their needs are is the first step to coming up with a solution that works for everyone. The thought of losing independence is a scary one, but if presented well and in a thoughtful manner, it can also be a collaborative effort in taking a closer step to achieving a viable option.
Here are a few tips on how to make the decision-making process less chaotic and more collaborative:
1. Take time and have an honest conversation with your loved ones on how they are feeling about their current living situation. Try asking questions like:
Is there anything you’ve been struggling with lately?
Are you sleeping well at night?
What does your average day look like?
Do you ever feel afraid because you are alone in your house?
Do you get up frequently at night to go to the bathroom?
2. Take stock on your own feelings, worries and concerns and communicate them clearly to your loved one.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, let your loved one know. Don’t make them feel like a burden but be honest about how worrying about them affects your life.
Don’t be afraid of having a tough conversation, as it can lead to more life-giving decision making.
Once you've expressed your concerns, listen carefully and without judgment to how your loved one feels.
3. Research the different care options available.
How much does a private caregiver cost? How many hours would be beneficial?
What is the difference between a large assisted living community versus a smaller board-and-care set up? What are the pros and cons of each? Which amenities would my loved one truly utilize?
Would a senior day care program be something my loved one would enjoy?
In addition to the plethora of information available online, talking to an eldercare advisor may help you find the best solution for your family.
Visit the various assisted living communities that are available and get a feel for whether it’s a good fit for your loved one.
4. Take a hard look at the finances.
Establish the cost of having your loved one remain in his/her home or current living situation. (mortgage/rent, utilities, food costs, house maintenance, etc.).
Take a look at your loved one’s finances (savings, investments, etc.).
Have a conversation with other members of your family (siblings, other relatives) that may be able to help contribute to the cost of a particular care option.
Once you have a clear understanding of the financial situation of your loved one, set a monthly budget and forecast that amount for at least five years. Is it sustainable? What if a higher level of care is needed in a few years?
You may need to discuss your options with an investment advisor, estate planner or eldercare advisor.
5. Be open to this new chapter.
This new stage will certainly bring about a lot of change for everyone involved. Having a positive and open attitude about this chapter will help make it a happier and more enjoyable time for you and your loved one.
Make this a time to truly connect with one another and take advantage of the time and energy freed up by not having to worry about all the minutia of day-to-day care and supervision and enjoy quality time with one another.
Stay connected and involved in the overall care management of your loved one so you can be able to assess if their current care situation is appropriate or needs to be amended or changed. Keep the evaluation process as transparent and fluid as possible. Seek constant feedback from your loved one and his/her care providers.
Having a positive and open attitude about this chapter will help make it a happier and more enjoyable time for you and your loved one.
As you can see, the journey to figure out how best to care for your loved one as they age is one that requires a lot of discerning, introspection, proactiveness and communication. There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution for everyone. What works for one family, may not work for yours. Bottom line, we all want to do our best and show up well for those who have shown up for us our whole lives. We want desperately to make the right decision for everyone involved. And as you may have realized already, there really isn’t an option that is 100% right for everyone. There are points to concede and compromises that may need to be made when coming to a decision. And while nothing could ever take the place of being able to be the person directly caring for your loved one as they get older, being able to find a good home or facility and/or amazing caregivers that can help bridge the gap when reality looks different than your hopes and wants, may be the next best thing for your loved one.
If you find yourself currently at this fork in the road or can foresee that this time is coming, please feel free to reach out to us. We can certainly provide you with some resources or just be a sounding board for you. We can also assure you that all the feelings/stress/anxiety you are experiencing in making this decision is completely normal and common. Having been part of this process for many years now, we have seen first-hand the struggles and the joys that have come from finding the “next best thing” for families. We have seen families flourish and thrive in being able to find the closest win-win scenario in their family dynamic. It was possible for them, and it is certainly possible for you. When you’re ready, we are here. Check out the third and final installment of our series, “Options, Options and More Options” to find out what kind of care scenarios are available to you.