For many children, the most difficult decision surrounding an aging parent’s care is whether he or she can remain living at home. Does my parent need to move to a nursing home? Would home care be enough?
The decision can be emotional for the entire family. Begin the decision-making process by understanding the difference in at-home care vs. nursing home care.
What Kind of Care Does My Parent Need?
It may be difficult for your parent to hear he or she needs assistance on a daily basis or even to consider moving from the home. However, when health and safety are a concern, you don’t want to wait until an accident or crisis happens.
It is always best to be proactive with your parent’s care. The more time you have, the more opportunity you have to compare options and find the right fit for your parent’s need, comfort, lifestyle and affordability.
Is Nursing Home Care the Right Fit?
Nursing homes are often the best choice for people requiring 24-hour care and supervision. The long term care provided at a nursing home includes a comprehensive range of services to meet the person’s physical, social and emotional needs.
One way to evaluate if nursing home care is right for your parent is by assessing the activities of daily living (ADL), which refer to the basic tasks of everyday life..
Nursing home care may be the best option for your parent when he or she cannot safely perform several of the items on the ADL list, such as
- Preparing food and eating to maintain a well-balanced diet.
- Personal hygiene, such as bathing and grooming.
- Dressing and undressing.
- Toileting, control and hygiene.
- Movement and mobility, such as getting out of bed.
Is In-Home Care Enough for My Parent?
When considering at-home care, it’s important to consider how much care your parent will need. At-home health care is often a fit for a parent who needs assistance a few times a week or a few hours a day.
There are agencies that provide a range of services, from assistance in daily tasks, such as cooking and grooming, to more intensive medical care. You can even arrange for physical and occupational therapists to come to the house to provide therapy on a regular basis.
At-home care services can range from a few times a week to overnight stays. Be aware that agencies may charge an hourly rate that can add up quickly, especially when overnight care is needed. Also, some families find they have to rely on multiple agencies for the needed services, such as one to bring in meals and another to provide medical care.
The biggest benefit to at-home care is often the comfort and familiarity of being able to stay within his or her own home. However, the home can also be an obstacle. Someone still needs to maintain the home, and it may need work to enhance its safety, such as adding grab bars and handles in restrooms, reducing fall risks and installing safety call systems.
What to Look For in a Long Term Care Facility
Even if you choose at-home care, it’s not uncommon that one day your parent may need to move into a long term care facility.
Therefore, don’t wait to start the conversation on nursing home options. Give your parent an opportunity to express his or her preferences and opinions. Broaching the subject of long term care before it’s needed can make a transition smoother and less stressful if the time comes.
Here are some tips to help you start evaluating long term care facilities:
- Talk to family members of residents. If you don’t know anyone who lives at a specific nursing, the staff should willingly put you in touch with some contacts. This is one of the best ways to evaluate any facility.
- Schedules tours at a few nursing homes. Pay attention to how staff interacts with residents. Evaluate with your nose.
- Sample some meals. The food should be good and meal times should be enjoyable. Meals also are an excellent opportunity to observe the nature of the interactions between the staff and residents.
- Does the home offer social, recreational, religious and cultural activities that interest your parent? Does the overall culture and residents living there seem like a fit for your parent?
- What choices can you or your parent make? Can he or she choose waking, bedtime and bathing time? Can the room be decorated for your parent? Will there be a telephone and TV in the room?Are visitors welcome anytime?
Finding the best solution and care for your parent can take some work, but knowing your parent is safe and cared for is invaluable and worth the time and energy.
Maine Veterans’ Homes is an independent nonprofit organization with six locations throughout Maine, each providing compassionate care to our honored veterans. For more information, contact Maine Veterans’ Homes online or give us a call at 800-278-9494.