Should Elderly Parents Stay In Their Own Home Or Be Moved To A Health Care Facility?
The challenge of how to best provide elder care for a parent is a difficult one because the situation is almost always fluid, and there are often many variables to consider. What seems like the right decision at any given time may change quickly.
In addition, what seems like the best solution to you may not be what your parent wants.
A common scenario is the loss of a spouse, with it accompanying depression and lethargy. The surviving spouse loses interest in everything, even basic hygiene.
Sometimes the person in charge realizes that the parent is losing focus and the ability to remain safe in the home while caring for himself. Another issue arises if the son or daughter lives far from the parent and finds it difficult to asses the parents’ needs. Having to suddenly make important decisions regarding the care of an elderly parent can seem overwhelming.
My advice is to try and come up with a plan together with all parties concerned….parent and all siblings. Begin with the premise that everybody wants what is best for your parent. All possible options should be presented. Often it is not an easy decision.
If the ultimate decision is to keep your parent at home it is wise to work with a nurses-aide agency to find a compatible caretaker. If your parent lives far away you may opt to move them to your home and have a nurses-aide care for them there. You may start by employing a nurses-aid on a part time basis and increase that to full time if and when needed. You may eventually decide that a live in caretaker is needed.
When looking for a nurses-aide you should help the agency choose someone by carefully detailing your parent’s personality. It is very important to choose someone who is compatible, pleasant and competent.
If your decision is to find a health care facility, make sure, if at all possible, that your parent is comfortable with that decision.
Being a health care provider, companion, or nurses-aide requires a great deal of patience and often a great deal of work. The job is often very demanding, and the condition of a patient may change drastically over the course of the job.
Conditions, such as Alzheimers and other forms of dementia may test the patience of the caregiver as well as his or her ability and willingness to tolerate verbal and sometimes even physical abuse. An Alzheimer patient can be aggressive and abusive but an experienced and capable professional will not take it personally. The behavior of these patients must be viewed and dealt with as we would deal with similar behavior in a child.
Often, the health of an elder deteriorates as time goes by so that a more intense level of care is required with passing time. Because an elder person has erratic sleep patterns, the companion must try to accommodate to this challenge. Elders are often awake for many hours during the night.
It is frustrating for a health care worker to hear herself berated by her charge to the relatives even though she knows the patient can’t really be held responsible for what they say.
It is also incumbent on the companion to assess what level of social interaction the patient desires. Some elders are eager to spend hours talking and others enjoy more privacy. A companion should act like a good friend and show interest in the reminiscences of their patient.
When an elder person loses the physical ability to care for himself or herself it is important for the health care provider to allow the patient to hold on to self respect and dignity whenever and for as long as possible.
Since the companion probably spends more time with the patient than anyone else she must constantly monitor and evaluate the changes that are taking place. Relatives look to her for the most current information about any significant changes that might occur.
It takes a very special type of person to be a truly helpful, understanding, and compassionate companion to those who have lost their youth and vitality.