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 between at-home care vs. nursing home care.
What Kind of Care Does My Parent Need?
It may be difficult for your parent to hear they need assistance daily or even consider moving from their 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 there is to compare options and find the right fit for their needs, 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 essential 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 attention 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.
Some agencies 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 regularly.
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. 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 most significant benefit to at-home care is often the comfort and familiarity of staying within his or her own home. However, the home can also be an obstacle. Someone still needs to maintain the house, 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 your parent may need to move into a long-term care facility one day.
Therefore, don’t wait to start the conversation on nursing home options. Allow your parent 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 home, the staff should willingly put you in touch with some contacts. This is one of the best ways to evaluate any facility.
- 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.
About Maine Veterans’ Homes
Maine Veterans’ Homes is an independent nonprofit organization with six locations throughout Maine, providing compassionate care to Veterans, their spouses, and Gold Star parents. For tips on choosing a senior living community, download our Free Guide >>>