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Discussing home care with parents

Joan Hatem-Roy, Chief Executive Officer

Q: Over the last few months my sister and I have been calling our elderly parents on a daily basis to make sure they are managing during these difficult times. We have begun to realize it may not be possible for them to remain living in their own home. They both have chronic health conditions but I don’t think they belong in a nursing home. What other options are available? We want to gather as much information as possible before we try and have a conversation with them.

A: It is always difficult when you come to realize an older loved one is reaching the point they may no longer be able to function in the community. This does not necessarily mean they have no choice but to move out of their home unless this is what they choose to do or they are at risk if they remain living in their current environment. It is natural an older adult would want to maintain their independence as long as possible. In many instances taking the least invasive intervention is recommended. Supportive services may enable your parents to remain safely in their home for an extended period of time.

Have you specifically determined what kind of assistance your parents need? Family members may have difficulty being objective in this area when emotions are involved. Hiring a geriatric care manager or working with a case manager from the local state funded home care corporation to conduct a comprehensive assessment may prove to be invaluable. Professionals can assist you in determining exactly what level of care is warranted. The next challenge is in communicating with your parents. Introduce the subject of care in the home very carefully, the last thing you want is to make them defensive. Focus on a mode of asking and suggesting as opposed to telling.

Your parents potentially could benefit from services provided in the home to help with housework, shopping, meal preparation, laundry and other tasks. There is a vast array of community based services including adult day health programs, transportation, home delivered meals and food pantries to mention a few. Care managers can provide information on eligibility guidelines and costs involved.

In order to gain cooperation from your parents don’t overwhelm them in the beginning. If it is safe to do so introduce care slowly, the service plan can be increased as needed.

 

Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff are available to offer assistance. Call 1-800-892-0890 (for the 23 cities and towns of the Merrimack Valley) or 978-750-4540 (for the 5 towns in the North Shore).

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to ageinfo@esmv.org or info@nselder.org.
Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.