As our parents get older, our roles as caregivers reverse, and we suddenly find ourselves helping our parents in ways they once helped us. While this is a bitter-sweet, full-circle moment, it can also bring many unforeseen challenges and overwhelm the loved ones now in charge. Today we will discuss how to choose the best future for an elderly loved one and feel confident in your decisions as a caretaker.
Open and Honest Communication
Before your elderly loved one loses the capacity to make informed and healthy decisions for themselves, we recommend having a difficult conversation that addresses their wants and needs for the future. It’s better to gather information from your loved one so that you can preserve a sense of their autonomy and make better decisions for their future care when your loved one is of sound and healthy mind.
However, these conversations are difficult at any stage. No one wants to think of a day when they or their loved one loses their capacity to live with independence. Remember, this conversation can be scary for your loved one so we advise the following:
• Speak in a safe and familiar place.
• Inform your loved one of your intentions before you speak so they can gather their thoughts and prepare.
• Listen with compassion and don’t interrupt.
• Listen to understand, not to respond.
• Express your love and concern to your loved one.
• Ask questions about their fears.
• Ask questions about what they are looking forward to.
• Establish boundaries of care and manage expectations.
• Discuss options of care.
• Dedicate time to ongoing support for your loved one while they consider these future changes.
Once you have this difficult conversation (or many conversations) begin to more thoroughly research your options.
Elderly Care Options
There are many options when it comes to elderly care. It is common for older adults to need different forms of care at different stages in their advanced years. Elderly care options include:
• Independent Living Communities
• Assisted Living Communities
• Nursing Homes
• Memory Support
• Respite Care
• Residential Care Homes
• Home Care Companies
• Hospice Care
• Relative Care
When considering a situation that requires a caregiver outside of your family or inner circle, it is recommended that you thoroughly vet them for credentials, referrals, and other necessary information to make sure you have the best fit for your loved one. We have created a list of questions to consider when finding a trustworthy elderly caregiver:
• Why did you choose to become a professional caregiver?
• Do you consider any of your patients’ friends as well?
• What do you enjoy most about caregiving?
• What do you find most challenging about being a caregiver?
• What are your credentials for caregiving, and can we run a background check?
• Do you have referrals from previous patients or their loved ones?
• Do you specialize in (insert your loved one’s specific needs)?
• What are your hobbies?
• How do you keep records of your day, and will we have access to them?
• Do you communicate with family members?
• Give me an example of a particularly stressful moment on the job.
• How did you handle the stressful moment?
• Do you cook or clean in addition to caretaking?
Remember to run a background check on anyone you choose to caretake for your loved one. There are many online options to run a background check at home easily. We also recommend staying in close contact with them, communicating with your loved one about their care, and raising any questions or concerns as soon as possible to the caretaker.
It’s important to involve your loved one as much as possible in choosing a form of caregiving. Having a conversation early on about your loved one’s wishes will ensure they feel safe and secure that their needs and desires will be honored. When picking a caregiving option, it is important to be fully informed and establish a relationship with the caregiver to ensure everyone is happy and safe.