Caregiving. It is not something that people want to talk about, or even to think about. Let’s face it. In many ways, caregiving is a bummer. Why? Because it is all about loss: loss of physical and cognitive abilities; loss of independence; and ultimately, the loss of life. But all of that loss is not exclusive to the care receiver. Caregivers experience a loss of their lives—not by dying—but by losing the freedoms of their lives as they lived it previous to caregiving.
In my condominium community, a number of our elderly residents have recently sold their homes and moved to senior care facilities. Not because they wanted to, but because they were pressured by their children to do so. We neighbors were surprised to see one gentleman’s obituary in the paper a matter of only a few weeks later.
I am not quick to blame the children, who were doing what they thought best to assure the safety of their parents who’s independent living had become basically unacceptable. But did it have to be this way? No. The parents could have remained in the driver’s seat of their lives if they had been proactive and planned ahead in preparing for their future needs.
Why does it take a crisis moment to move folks into action? It’s because people are in a vicious cycle of procrastination and denial. Caregiving education is something that is often ignored because: pre-caregivers think they don’t need it yet; current caregivers who feel they are too busy; and post-caregivers just want to leave it all behind. I’ve even known caregiving “experts”, who should know better, to fall prey to procrastination. Sometimes they, too, wait for the crisis moment before springing into action.
So, if you want to call your own shots, be proactive—plan and prepare ahead. I have, and this is what I have accomplished:
- Downsized my home
- Downsized and organized my belongings (It was like pulling teeth, but I even got the kids to express what they would one day like.)
- Made a notebook of the information they would one day need to lay their hands on easily: financial, legal, property maintenance, and medical
- Completed a conversation starter kit “The Conversation Project” so that the children would have a clear picture of what my wishes are for end-of-life care.
It is my plan to stay in my home and age in place with in-home care. My daughter lives nearby, but if my needs are great there’s an agency called Elder’s Choice that provides a live-in caregiver 24/7 and that is the model I would prefer. But there are many other choices available, too—it’s a matter of being flexible (not stubborn) and developing a care plan that works for you and your family—one that does not leave your children with excessive burden for your care.
So, educate yourself early on. The following article takes a succinct look at the following elder care options: Aging in Place; New Home; In-home Care; Living with Family; Independent Living Community; Assisted Living Facility; Continuing Care Retirement Community; Skilled Nursing Facilities; and Care Homes.
July 18, 2021
Elder Care Options: Which Is Best For Your Loved One?