I was asked recently, “What should I do? My parents just seem to be failing. How do I help them?” No matter how healthy a person is at this moment – the toughest discussion is admitting there is an obstacle no one escapes – AGING! There will be changes in our ability as we move through the aging process, and denial of those changes will only cause a more intense learning curve later.
Congratulations – you have recognized that, as a family, the discussion needs to start sooner rather than later!
You are likely familiar with the image of a traditional nursing home, but there is a full variety of options that you will want to review and consider – especially since you are starting the investigation early. The first place I believe you should start is “non-medical” home care. These are private duty services that provide any number of assistive services, which help elders stay active and independent in their residence. Services they can provide range from:
- Companion Care: General shopping & errands, companionship &conversation, transportation to appointments.
- Housekeeping: Laundry & ironing, vacuuming & dusting, meal preparation & washing dishes, caring for pets & plants.
- Personal Care: Assistance with personal hygiene, medication reminders, walking assistance, diet monitoring & meal planning.
- Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care: (Only with some companies) Cueing programs to stimulate self-care, patient monitoring, fostering supportive communication, providing meaningful activities.
The beauty of non-medical home care is the ability the family will have to give assistance EARLY (don’t wait too long) and in a less invasive way. Too often, it has been my experience that seniors and their families wait too long to take these small steps and then find themselves faced with big transitional moves.
Additionally, I think the next step is to make sure you understand any on-going medical conditions that your parents may have (for example, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, COPD, asthma, etc.). As they age, those conditions will worsen, and the more you know, the better you, your siblings, and your parents can be prepared.
I know this isn’t the complete encyclopedia of information possible, but given the information you shared, I think these are your first steps.