One of the most difficult aspects of aging is accepting the help needed to live a safe and healthy existence. Watching your parents' needs grow beyond the extent of the help you can provide is also a heavy burden to bear. When one parent requires a nursing home and the other doesn't, though, everyone's heart begins to tremble.
While it's not an easy course to navigate, it's a necessity you have to face with fortitude, foresight and, hopefully, the help of your entire family.
1. Understand The Services Available To You And Them
Senior care has become highly specialized, offering the exact care an elder needs, be it a service that comes to them or one they move to:
- In-home elder care: Health and safety services that enhance quality of life, enabling a senior to remain in their current home.
- Assisted living: A facility providing general help that doesn't usually include medical professionals.
- Nursing home: The place where seniors who need extensive medical care and physical assistance or who are suffering with Alzheimer's or dementia can call home.
Your area may only have certain types of care facilities or services available, possibly making your decision and life thereafter a little more challenging than if more options were accessible. All factors need to be taken into consideration in order for you to arrange the most optimal conditions for both your mom and dad. The parent remaining at home, for example, may be eligible for home care, which could free some of your time up to tend to the one moving to a nursing home. Perhaps, too, both parents would fare well in an assisted living facility, with the greater needs of one still being met.
2. Know The Specific Needs Of Each Parent
It's tough to admit the two people you love so much are getting old, but that doesn't mean you should ignore any of the consequences they're facing due to the persistence of Father Time. Take everything into account, including conditions involving degeneration, which, sadly, may only worsen:
- Physical abilities and limitations.
- Safety issues (balance, traversing stairs, forgetting medicine, eating well, etc.).
- Cognitive decline and memory challenges, such as Alzheimer's or dementia.
- The burden of one ailing parent on the other.
- How much you (and other family members) can care for both parents.
- Medical conditions requiring professional services.
With the help of a nursing home or assisted living administrator, an in-home care provider or other professional, you can analyze the different challenges facing each of your parents so you can successfully pair them up with an appropriate service or facility.
3. Find A Balance For Both Of Them
Separating your parents could be one of the most difficult things you ever do, but it's no easy feat for them, either. Even if they argue like cats and dogs, neither wants to part ways, nor dramatically alter their current living arrangement. Finding a balance and then pointing out the more positive aspects of what's going to happen should ease the burden and help you make the best moves:
- Assess their needs as individuals, despite the fact that they're a couple.
- Analyze the physical environment and how it affects them both.
- Honestly understand your limitations in caring for them.
The initial period of adjustment won't be easy for your family, yet together, you'll all be stronger and better off in the long run.
4. Make Choices Available When Possible
Even though these life-changing decisions are being made by people other than your parents or by partly involving them, they should be able to make some choices whenever possible. Even the color of curtains hung can provide a person with a sense of control, which is important to their sense of self. If you can, ask for their input on the many ways in which their lives will be impacted, such as:
- The location of the nursing home or even a specific one.
- Modifications to the home one parent remains in, as well as aspects involving the nursing home (room) that are applicable.
- Style and services of the nursing home, from salons and cuisine to shopping and social activities.
- When, where, and why they'll be able to see each other on a regular basis.
With all you have to do to see to their basic needs, it may be hard to address choices; however, if they're willing and able to decide things for themselves, they'll be much happier with the opportunity to do so.
5. Talk To The Nursing Home About A Reservation For The Parent Remaining At Home
Just because you have one parent who isn't quite ready for a nursing home now doesn't mean that couldn't change even more rapidly than you're all currently thinking. Nursing homes often have long waiting lists; thus, it's wise to plan ahead in order to eventually keep your parents in the same facility by reserving a spot at a time that makes sense. Anticipate the need, as much as you're able, and assure both parents that you're planning ahead for them.
6. Include Everyone In Family And Holiday Events
It doesn't matter if you bring your family to the nursing home or the nursing home parent to the family, so long as everyone has a chance to get together on the days that matter most. For your parents' anniversary, especially, find a way to create magical moments by preparing a favorite meal, buying gifts on behalf of your mom or dad, and doing whatever it takes to reunite them in the most appropriate way for their respective physical and mental states.
Every occasion the family marks should include your mother and father, even if it means more traveling and extra transporting. Separation is hard enough, but it's going to be made painful if the pair can't see each other on the most memorable of days.
You need a plan, a lot of patience and, most likely, the help of a professional to see you and your whole family through this trying time, but you'll all get there, especially if you keep in mind that you're doing the right thing for both of your parents, who need you so much, now more than ever. Contact a facility that provides elder care services to learn more.