It is funny how when you are young, you can't wait to grow up and move out on your own. Then, when that time comes and you see that it is not all that you had thought it would be -- you never factored in working full time, rent and utilities, food and other expenses, relationships, etc. Once you are in the "real world" you wish you could go back to when you were younger and you had less responsibility. But, you can't and so you go through life learning the ropes sort of speak, finding your niche and creating a life that makes you happy. It is not until you get a little older that you are hit with another realization that you never expected to have to deal with -- caring for your aging parents or loved ones.
Have you reached that stage in your life where you have had to step up to the plate and have that talk with your parents or loved ones about long-term care and/or what will happen if they get sick and can't take care of themselves? If you have, then you know it can be stressful, especially when you are faced with choosing a long-term care facility to place them them. A couple of years ago, I had to help my parents with choosing a nursing home for my grandmother. She had fallen and had to undergo two hip replacement surgeries, which left her wheel chair bound. Then, the medicine they gave her sped up her dementia. With these two strikes against her, her wish to stay in her home was not an option anymore. My parents had their own house and my mom was still working. They didn't have a handicap accessible house or the space needed to take in my grandmother. Other relatives also were able to take her in or offer daily care to her. We did attempt to bring in help around the clock to care for her and just be there in case she needed help. But, she didn't like "strangers" in her home and said it didn't feel like her home anymore as she no longer slept in her bedroom as she couldn't get to it with her wheelchair. So, a bed and reclining chair were moved into her living room.
We gathered the family together and made the hard decision to have to start looking for nursing homes for her. Her dementia would get worse -- which it did, and ended up turning into Alzheimer's, and she would need nursing care to help with bathing her, making sure she ate and took her medicines, etc. -- everything an aging person would do by themselves otherwise. Having had worked in an assisted living facility for a few years, I saw firsthand how those living there were treated and neglected by the staff. Now I know that there are some great assisted living facilities out there, but the ones in our area that I was familiar with and knew people who had worked in, were not a place that I would want to place my parent or grandmother. So, what were we to do?
For the next month or so, my parents and I took tours at different facilities throughout New England. We did our research online looking at reviews left by others, as well as reports that are accessible by the public that let you see about any issues a facility may have. Each and every time we took a tour, we had a set of questions in hand, ready to ask to the staff. We had done our homework and knew what we were looking for a long-term care facility for my grandmother -- and, we weren't going to just place her anywhere.
After looking at over two dozen facilities, we finally found one that we felt comfortable with. They had a locked-down Alzheimer's unit, which we knew would come in handy with my grandmother as she was at that stage where she liked to wander and needed to be safe at all times. Also, there was around the clock by experienced staff, many of whom had certification in Alzheimer's care. The price was also a factor in our decision, as my grandmother didn't have much. If you are familiar with long-term care facilities, then you know that they base your monthly bill off of what you make. Many families try to sell or give away everything in hopes to not pay that much. But, they don't realize that when they do this, that oftentimes their loved ones will have to have a roommate. I don't know about you, but if I was being taken out of my house and put in a long-term care facility, the last thing I would want is a roommate. What if you don't get along with them? It turns out to be an unpleasant experience for you and your loved.
It has been a couple years now since we placed my grandmother into a nursing home. And, even though I wish she could have stayed home, I knew that this was not feasible as we had our own lives to live raising our children, and my parents are also getting older and starting to scale back on the way they are living to prepare themselves for long-term care, if and when the time comes. Even though my grandmother no longer knows who we are, we still visit her on a regular basis. In the beginning it was hard to see her at the nursing home, as we felt like we had gone against her wishes of staying in her home. But, we had her best interests in mind, and know that she is receiving the care she need, of which we couldn't provide.
If you have had to deal with seeking out long-term care options for your parent of loved one (e.g., adult day care, assisted living facility), was it a difficult process? Did you have questions you had prepared for the facility staff or medical professionals? And, did you go on numerous tours of facilities before settling on one? Some people who live far away from their aging parent don't have the luxary we did of touring and researching facilities.
Instead, they have to place their loved one in a long-term care facility that has an open bed, and hope for the best. It is times like this, that the headaches come, as you slowly find out that the facility is not up to your standards, or that your loved one is not happy -- and, so begins the long, grueling process of seeking out another facility with trips to the location your family member is at, or through phone calls due to your long distance. You can only breath a little easier once your loved one is settled in and happy. Then, you start to worry and think about end-of-life care, final arrangements, etc. -- again, things you never expected to have to think about, but realize you have to.
The holidays are a time when family comes together not just to enjoy a family meal and company, but also to talk about aging parents and loved ones, and what to do next. If you find yourself having to think about long-term care options for a loved one, make sure you check out the Care Options section of CareConversations.org. This website will help you in your decision making process, help you evaluate the different care options available, and give you question suggestions to ask when taking tours. While having to talk to your loved ones about long-term care options in not something we look forward to, it is needed, as you never know what tomorrow will bring. You want to make sure you have their wishes in mind when choosing long term care for them.
I have found the website, CareConversations.org to be a wonderful resource for those starting to have the talk with aging parents and loved ones. This website helps ease some of the stress you will face by providing excellent resources to make the process a little easier. So, be sure you bookmark CareConversations.org, so you are better prepared when the time comes to talk about long-term care options with your loved ones.
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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post through Global Influence, in which I will be compensated for my time. However, all views shared are mine and mine alone.