Entrusting your aging parents to the care of someone else is one of the toughest decisions an adult child will ever face. It seems we cannot escape the media accounts of innocent senior citizens falling victim to the “caretakers” tasked with providing them the safety they deserve. What if something like this were to happen to your own parents? The thought alone is panic-inducing.
How can you ensure that Mom or Dad will be wholesomely cared for in the facility you select?
Truthfully, there really are no guarantees, in spite of the following recommendations. So, even though most moves are painfully disruptive, especially as we age, better the inconvenience and disruption of another move than having your parents put up with intolerable unpleasantness or incompetence. Also, except for emergencies, and sometimes even then, a parent has a fundamental right to determine the wisdom and acceptability of a move. Therefore, please take to heart how to constructively involve parents in these momentous decisions (to be outlined in detail in an upcoming blog post).
- Be ready
Above all, start your search early, so that you and your family have a plan in place long before events necessitate putting it in motion. Decisions made in haste or under pressure often aren’t our best ones.
- Know what it is you’re looking for
Specifically, what kind of facility are you looking for? Retirement care, residential care, assisted living, assisted care—and what is the difference in meaning among all these terms, anyway? Watch out, because true designations and definitions are determined by the state in which you live. The type of facility you and your family are seeking for your aging mom or dad should be determined based on the type(s) of assistance your own parent requires.
- Seek a professional assessment
Talk to an expert about where they see the best fit for your parent(s), both now and long term.Some of the doctors or other health care professionals who spend time with your parent should have the most objective and realistic views about where things truly stand. Your family’s pastor or clergyperson, as well as anyone your mom or dad sees regularly—good friends and even a trusted hairdresser—they may all have noticed changes in your mom or dad during recent months.
- How will we pay for this?
As unpleasant as this topic may be, it needs to be dealt with long before the time comes. Budget constraints and insurance will limit the choices you have. Make sure to include any available siblings in this decision, as well as Mom and Dad (perhaps they’ve put money aside for this time in their lives). This website provides a comprehensive view on costs, in addition to a calculator, based on the services you are anticipating for your parent. In the U.S., Medicare does not cover the costs of residential or assisted living. (Please note: I am not an expert in Medicare benefits!)
- Consider location
You will not only be limited by financial resources, but by simple geography. You’ll want Mom or Dad to have visitors as often as possible. The eldercare locator, offered as a public service by the U.S. Administration on Aging, can help you begin the quest.
- Schedule an appointment with each potential residence
Exhausting, sure, but there’s really no other way to get a sense of how each facility is run and the kind of care the residents receive.
(The rest of this post may be read in Part II, to be published within 48 hours of this one. Thanks for reading.)
As always, I am here to guide you in making thoughtful decisions in relation to your sandwich generation issues. Please get in touch.
All my best,
Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.