When you are the child of an aging parent, you face a conundrum. Put yourself in your father’s shoes for a minute. You have dedicated your whole life to caring for family. Now, due to the natural order of things, every day that goes by it seems one more task slips from your fingertips. That is a hard pill to swallow.
Your goal is to find a way to allow him enough independence to maintain his dignity and quality of life while still making sure he has everything necessary to be safe. That is where senior services come into play. There are levels of service available to both you and your father. It’s up to you to figure out which ones are both cost effective and practical.
Do a Cursory Assessment
This is the first step in getting Dad fit with the right services. Consider whether he:
- Can get to the grocery store
- Takes his medication as needed
- Keeps his space clean
- Is able to maintain good personal hygiene
These are all factors that determine how much help he needs. There are various types of services for the elderly; some are available at little to no cost.
Create Simple Solutions
Have you heard of the K.I.S.S. approach to problem solving? Keep it simple, stupid? Well, it’s not a bad approach to take with finding the right care for your aging parents. In other words, look for the easiest, most cost effective solution to the problems you found during your assessment. Just start with the problem solving basics.
Problem: Dad is not eating regularly
Is there food to eat? If he has food in the kitchen, but he is not making meals for himself, maybe you or another family member can come over on the weekends and cook up food for the week. You can fill up the refrigerator with premade meals and show him how to reheat them.
If there’s no food in the fridge you might want to start thinking about getting him registered for Meals-on-Wheels or a grocery-delivery service.
Problem: Dad is lonely.
He doesn’t need help, just companionship.
Paws is a program that helps connect pets in need of a home with seniors looking to take care of them. It might be just that simple.
Turn to the Community
As more people age into the golden years, community programs are expanding to accommodate them. Investigate what community resources might be available for mom and dad.
- Meals on Wheels
- Adult day care
- Public transportation for seniors
These are all free or low cost options that can fulfill the needs of an aging parent. Adult day care, in particular, is one of the most effective ways to ensure an elderly love one has their daily needs met when you aren’t able to provide full-time care. More importantly, adult day care facilities provide the socialization seniors need to reduce the depression and loneliness that can come with getting older.
Do Your Homework about Housing
If the time comes when living alone is a poor choice for your dad, consider the different senior housing options that might fit his needs.
- Senior living communities can be the right choice for an older adult who is able to live independently, but who would benefit from having a professional in the vicinity just in case. There are affordable apartment homes that base the rent on income, too; make this a financially viable solution.
- Assisted living takes senior housing up a level. Mom or dad will be able to get regular help with home and personal care tasks like cleaning the apartment and getting dressed.
- Memory care centers provide a level of services that are specially designed to help those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. They are available for both inpatient and outpatient service.
- Nursing homes that provide full time medical care are often the most expensive option, but may be a necessity for seniors with severely debilitating health problems.
Look for senior services available that improve his quality of life without taking away his independence.