As your aging parents and other close senior family members move through the years, you may begin to worry that they are not as safe, healthy, or happy at home as they once were or could be. It’s common to start noticing potential problems during the holidays or at major family gatherings, when people can become overwhelmed by the demands of the occasion, revealing underlying challenges. However, you can use these important times of year to begin addressing emerging care needs. Here’s what you can do to help your senior loved one get the support they need.
Assess Their Needs
If you’re concerned about a senior parent or other relative that you don’t live with, visit their home, look around, and (tactfully) ask key questions to help determine which kind(s) of help they might need. Determine if there are red flags in any of these areas:
- Medical and mobility needs. Look for signs of undiagnosed medical concerns, failure to keep doctor’s appointments, rapid weight loss or gain, or medication mix-ups. This can also include any difficulties walking, sitting, standing, reaching, or balancing.
- Social needs. Find out if your loved one has withdrawn from their usual social activities, is lacking regular human interaction, or is exhibiting signs of loneliness.
- Mental health needs. Watch for symptoms of depression, anxiety, memory loss, confusion, or unusual agitation.
- Home safety. Look to see if there are any hazards related to heat sources and appliances that heat up, such as irons, space heaters, ranges, and toasters. Check for outlet hazards as well slippery or obstacle-laden surfaces and non-functional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Basic self-care. Observe whether your family member seems to be falling behind with things like personal hygiene, laundry, home cleaning, pet care, or food preparation tasks.
Assess Your Own Needs and Abilities
It can be tempting to swoop in and start helping your senior loved one with all their basic care needs. Depending on your own schedule and life situation, this may be partially possible, or possible for a limited period of time. However, you may not have the time or ability to help as much as you’d like. Carefully consider your schedule, personality, location, the nature of your relationship with the family member, and other major factors before making a long-term commitment to caring for them yourself.
Include Your Loved One in Major Decisions
Demonstrate your love and respect for senior parents and other relatives by asking them about their own goals and challenges. Include them in the search for solutions. This is particularly important if your family member is reluctant to accept help or move to a retirement community. The more you can involve them, the more likely you are to be successful in collaborating with them—and in ensuring that they get the care they need.
Assess Finances, Care Options, and Costs
Once you’ve identified your loved one’s needs and wishes and the degree to which you are personally able to address them, it’s essential to evaluate their financial situation. Educate yourself on state and federal assistance programs that can make some resources for seniors more affordable. The overall financial picture will help you narrow down realistic solutions as you explore aging care options—such as home care services vs. retirement community residences—and related costs. Some of the concerns various home care services can address include:
- Household care and maintenance (cleaning, upkeep, and minor repairs)
- Transportation (especially to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, etc.)
- Home modifications (such as bathroom safety equipment for seniors, ramps, or renovations that allow seniors to live entirely on the ground floor)
- Personal care
- Healthcare (including hospice care)
- Social programs (to prevent isolation, ensure safety, and even provide therapy)
Consider the Value of Each Investment
Perhaps most importantly, consider the ultimate value of each care option as an investment. Your senior family member may be able to get by with minor home improvements and at-home senior support services in the short term, but may soon need the kind of intensive medical and personal care that only a retirement community can provide. In this case, some expenses may prove financially wasteful.
If your loved one is reluctant to move into a retirement community, there’s good news: choosing a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) will allow them to transition seamlessly between levels of care as needed. Active seniors can enjoy a fully independent and socially vibrant lifestyle in a CCRC, and they can add only the services they want or need at any time. They can also receive assisted living services, skilled nursing care, or therapy if necessary, and all lifestyle options are available right on the same campus where they already live.
Choosing a nonprofit CCRC can provide an even greater return on your investment. That’s because whereas for-profit communities will always consider their bottom line first and foremost, nonprofit CCRCs invest all profits back into services for their residents. This means that your senior loved one’s quality of life, not the provider’s profits, are the first priority of nonprofit CCRCs. In addition, for-profit CCRCs will often force residents to leave if they run out of funds. In contrast, after seniors financially qualify and move into a nonprofit CCRC, many nonprofit communities offer financial assistance to support residents when their funds deplete.
Get Customized Senior Care at Chapel Pointe
Chapel Pointe is a faith-based continuing care retirement community. We commit each day to serving and enhancing the quality of life for people aged 62+ in Central Pennsylvania. We’re honored that our greater community sees the servant-heart of our nonprofit organization and consistently selects Chapel Pointe as “The Best of Cumberland County.”
Nestled in eight beautifully landscaped acres in Carlisle, PA, our welcoming campus is filled with interesting places to explore and amenities that make life easy and enjoyable. Bird-watch from the gazebo, take a quiet moment in the chapel, curl up with a book in the library, join a friend for games in the sunroom, use the free internet in the café, take the shuttle to a local museum, or enjoy a conversation in front of the fireplace.
Since the beginning, our team's mission has been to ensure that every resident is treated with love and the utmost respect. Experiencing our core values—trust, integrity, faith, service, and innovation—lived out every day at Chapel Pointe reassures seniors that they are making the right decision by welcoming us into their lives. Contact us to learn more about our community or support our mission by making a donation today!