The writing is on the wall; it’s time.
Or maybe you just want to plan ahead. That’s good—when it comes to senior care, the earlier you start thinking about and planning for the future, the better. After all, this is not a decision you want to make under pressure—there’s a lot to think about, and a lot of money at stake.
“Aging in place” is the preferred choice of 90% of seniors over 65. If this is your family’s choice, be sure it’s a realistic one. It’s only natural for the elderly to overestimate their abilities and discount the risks in a familiar environment, so schedule a meeting with a geriatric care professional to evaluate such concerns as home safety and accessibility, mobility needs, chronic health conditions, and overall fitness of this option for their particular circumstance.
“We need to talk.”
If you are planning for yourself, you need to make your wishes perfectly clear. Tell your loved ones what you want. By showing you are not afraid to talk about difficult issues like these, you will encourage your family to do the same. At the very least, they’ll be prepared to make decisions that are in line with your goals, and family conflicts will be minimized or avoided entirely.
If this is about your parents or other elderly relatives and they haven’t brought it up yet, take the initiative. Ease into the conversation—you can talk about your own long-term goals, and then steer the conversation to theirs—and gradually begin discussing more sensitive topics like care options and financial concerns.
In either case, choose a peaceful, comfortable setting. This is not something to bring up at a holiday party or any other busy, stressful time. Maybe over brunch, the next morning? You may need to split it up. Perhaps it would be best to introduce the subject during one visit and follow up with options at the next. You know your family–whatever works best for you will be fine.
Out on the town
One concern for seniors remaining in their homes is the possibility of isolation. If their mobility is limited and their caregiver is also elderly, which is often the case for older men—or if their family is unable to regularly provide transportation for them to engage in their community—they can be effectively trapped in the home. Needless to say, this is very detrimental to their physical and emotional well-being. Modern facilities for senior living can offer opportunities for shopping, dining out, religious services and socialization that may be beyond the capabilities of families and in-home care providers. This particular facet of senior life should not be overlooked when considering your options.
Love is forever
The flip side of this issue is a potentially uncomfortable subject to tackle: couples intimacy. At home, seniors enjoy the freedom to live their private lives as they see fit. This has not—until relatively recently—been the case in institutional care. As they always have, the Baby Boom generation continues to challenge long-held assumptions and break new ground. They have demanded that care facilities acknowledge this basic truth: long after other senses fade, the need for physical contact remains strong. Now, attitudes towards this formerly taboo subject are changing. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are slowly realizing that senior residents under their care are just as entitled to their private lives as any other human being, and many have adopted “do not disturb” policies when couples choose to spend some quality time together. The benefits are great. Aside from simply increasing resident’s happiness, simple human touch improves a number of biological markers including stress hormones, appetite, sleep and blood pressure. Massage and other nonsexual touching are certainly beneficial on their own, but if Mom and Dad are still intimate, home may be a better choice than a nursing home with a restrictive policy. Here again, the conversation might be awkward, but the reward for clear communication is incalculable.
Bottom line: the time to look at options for elder care is now. Start the conversation!
Contact us today for more information.