If you are caring for an elderly parent, then you know that it’s not easy – especially if you are also taking care of your own family at the same time. However, you can take solace in the fact that you are not alone. In the United States, approximately 10 million people are caregivers for their parents, many of whom have dementia, in addition to taking care of their own children. People in your position are known as the sandwich generation, because you are sandwiched between your responsibilities to your ailing parents and to your children. After a while, the pressure and responsibilities can put a serious strain on your health, well-being, and your relationships. However, you do have options for getting your elderly relatives the care they need.
Adult Day Care
Adult day cares are ideal for people who have to work during the day and need someone to take care of their parents. They are also ideal for elderly people who aren’t ready to go into assisted living, but are reluctant to have a strangers come into their homes.
Adult day cares don’t just watch your elderly family members; they also provide nursing care, including monitoring and dispensing medication and physical therapy, as well as meals and even transportation. These facilities also give your elderly relatives the opportunity to socialize with others, participate in activities, and get some exercise, all of which can greatly improve their quality of life.
Home Elder Care
Dynamic Nursing defines home care as a wide range of health and social services “…delivered at home to recovering, disabled, chronically or terminally ill persons in need of medical, nursing, social, or therapeutic treatment and/or assistance with the essential activities of daily living.”
If you don’t feel that your parents are to the point where they need to go to assisted living, home elder care might be the best choice for you. The great thing about home nursing is that the agencies will work with you to determine how much home care you need. For example, if you feel comfortable with the daily tasks, but need someone to come in while you go on vacation or take a night out, they can do that. Conversely, if you need someone to administer care several hours a day, for several days a week, they can do that as well.
They can also provide physical therapists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists if your parent is recovering from an illness or injury and needs rehabilitation, and some services may even provide in-home memory care.
Nursing Homes/Assisted Living
Many people bristle at the thought of sending their elderly parents to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Nursing homes have long been considered nothing more than warehouses for the elderly. The image most people conjure is if grey, depressing places with very little nursing and which are not at all like home. But nursing homes and assisted living facilities have come a long way from the oppressive institutions of yesteryear. Today’s nursing homes are less like oppressive institutions staffed by Nurse Ratched-like nurses who treat patients like children, and more like Club Meds for the older set.
Some facilities have individual apartment units and bungalows where your parents can still have a sense of independence, but with on-site nursing care, meal services, hair salons, and shuttle services to local stores and restaurants. Some facilities even include a pre-dinner happy hour, where residents can enjoy a drink or two before their meal.
Most importantly, today’s nursing homes are staffed by medical professionals with the experience and knowledge to take care of your elderly parents’ needs, especially those with dementia and other memory issues. In fact, many nursing homes have special areas devoted entirely to memory care.
As you can see, you don’t have to do it all yourself. In fact there are several organizations that are more than willing to do some of it for you. By seeking professional help, you can make sure that your loved ones are safe and get the care they need.
For more information on adult day cares, home elder care, or nursing homes, contact your local council on aging, or social services agencies that assist the elderly.