6 ways to care for your aging parents
The responsibilities that fall upon the shoulders of the "sandwich generation" weigh heavily. To care for aging parents while also raising your own families — oh, and be sure to take some time for yourself somewhere along the line, too — can burden the best of us. How to manage? Highly rated providers who specialize in caring for the elderly offer their advice.
Evaluate the situation. If you think your mom or dad needs help with bathing, taking medications or more, call a professional to assess the situation before making any decisions. “A nurse can determine if home health care is something they need to have,” says Karen Robins of highly rated Personal Touch Home Care in Fort Thomas, Ky.
Enjoy your parents. Hiring quality companies to clean, transport and cook for your parents can alleviate stress, says Ryan McEniff, owner of highly rated Minute Women in Lexington, Mass., which provides a variety of in-home services. “The kids can go visit without having to do chores and just relax and spend time with their parents,” he says.
Have the talk. Discuss the need to hire help, but make it about your own level of comfort and not taking away anyone’s independence. “You don’t want to put your loved one on the defensive,” says Jill Stewart, owner of highly rated Visiting Angels of Charlotte in North Carolina. “Explain why you want to have someone there they can count on.”
Prepare to pay. In-home health care is most often an out-of-pocket expense. Some companies do accept long-term care insurance and there may be programs for veterans in your area. Prices vary depending on the level of care required. McEniff charges $19.50 an hour per aide; Stewart charges about $18 an hour or $225 a day for 24-hour, live-in care.
Use local resources. Most communities offer a list of resources that are made available to senior citizens. Whether it’s Meals on Wheels, adult daycare, shuttle bus transportation, or an Alzheimer’s support group, knowing what’s at one’s disposal is half the battle. “If we can’t help you in a certain area, we’ll know who can,” Robins says.
Weigh the options. There are limitations on the types of things that certified nurse assistants or home health nurses can do in a home situation. If your elderly parent needs 24-hour care, consider whether to keep them at home or move them to an assisted living facility. “There are pluses and minuses to each one,” McEniff says. “You might consider both.”