The goal of Aging Parents Management is to offer information and resources to help you become better prepared the future care of your elderly parent.
However, the reality is we are never truly prepared for it. Many times it happens unexpectedly as a result of a change in a parent's health situation. This is usually how many of us find ourselves in this role for the first time.
According to statistics provided by the Area on Aging of Bucks County, patients are typically discharged from hospitals/rehab and return home to an untrained caregivers and an unprepared home environment.
This is exactly what happened to my sister and I when our Dad was released from Rehab following a stroke. We were not prepared for any of it.
The discharge nurse told us that Dad was going home in a few days.
We assumed that we could handle it.
That first night home with our Dad was horrible.
Not for him,
for my sister!
We should have had a plan for that first night home!
"Aging In Place" is a term used to describe a person remaining in their residence as they age for as long as they are able to do so. This would also include being able to receive any medical or health services and support that they might need over time as their situation changes.
Today, this is the decision that many of our parents are choosing as their long-term living arrangement. It is a decision requires thought and planning. It all starts with a conversation with your parents and an honest assessment of their home.
It is important to examine all areas of their home or yours to determine if they are able to live there short term or long term with any physical and health limitations. Sometimes the home will make the decision for you, as it was our case.
With Aging In Place, time will be on your side because the progression happens more slowly. As the health situation of your loved one diminishes, you are making changes to their living situation.
As the Caregiver, it will be your responsibility to regularly reassess the condition of their home and to modify their Care Plan throughout the Aging-In-Place process; as long as the primary objectives can be met: keeping them safe, comfortable and delivering their care needs.
To help you through this process, we have broken it down into three parts - Assessment, Preparation and Action. When you are ready to begin the planning process, sign up for our Elderhood Plan.
I'm not ready to be my parents' Caregiver.
Aging In Place
Recovering In Place
This chain of events for us is what is known as "Recovering-In-Place." It is a period of time when a person returns home from an extended hospital stay due to illness or injury to continue their recovery process. This would include returning to their home or to yours temporarily or permanently. Insurance companies typically cover hospital or rehab stay for only a certain period of time. The expectation is for the person to finish recovering at home.
This is usually the time when we come to realize that our parents' home and even our own home is not suitable to accommodate any new physical limitations or health requirements of our parent. It will be important that as your parent prepares for their discharge from a hospital or rehab facility that you become involved in their therapy and discharge program.
When your parent is attending therapy sessions, you should go with them. This will help you to better understand what limitations they may have. In addition, this will be an opportunity for you to learn how best to "handle" and maneuver them safely. Any form of training or information will help you become better prepared to be their future Caregiver.
We were not prepared for what was waiting for us when we brought Dad home. The first night home for my sister was the worst night she had in her life. We should have had more help, however, without knowing what is was going to be like - we did not know what help to even ask for.
There needs to be a plan for when your loved one is returning home. There are items that will need to be put in place and you are not going to be able to do it alone.
Our Home Coming Plan has been designed to step you through the preparations that you will need to make for when Mom or Dad comes home. At minimum, you should use this plan for the first 10 days they are home. It will help you buy some time; which is something a Caregiver never has enough of nor is it ever on your side.
My parent is being discharged in a few days.
Proactive Planning Is the Key
What is going to make a difference in your journey is having a plan and information about these upcoming events in your aging parent's life. Ask yourself, will it be possible for them to remain in their home safely and to receive all of their care needs there? Is it realistic and for how long will you be able to maintain it? Sometimes outside forces will intervene and help make help difficult decisions for you - for example the condition of their home.
There is a sense of doubt that travels along with you on this journey. Even though our Dad has since passed away, my sister and I still doubt the decisions we made. What if we did something differently? Should we have made a different decision that might have resulted in a different outcome? Unlike a termination of employment, there will not be any exit interview in this role as a Caregiver. There will not be any opportunity to sit with your supervisor to discuss your decision making or productivity.
Being a Caregiver comes with constant doubt and uncertainty. However, as long as you are as prepared as possible and have a plan that addresses these primary objectives of: keeping them safe, comfortable and delivering their care needs, you should feel proud and confident that you are and have done your job to the best of your abilities.
Lets start working on a plan together.
There is more you need to know about this role:
Making You a Priority
Estate Planning Basics
Getting rid of Stuff
When the Journey is ending