Senior Care is a Family Issue

It takes a family working together to choose the most

appropriate option for a loved one’s senior care

Why Is It Important?

To begin, seniors are at a vulnerable stage of life. They often

face multiple health concerns and loss of physical and cognitive

function. More now than ever, seniors need the support and love

of family members.

Seniors often have difficulty expressing their needs, desires and

preferences, so they must have someone to advocate for them.

And who is more qualified for that than the people who know

them better than anyone else in the world?

Even if your family chooses to involve outside help in providing

your loved one’s elder care — an in­home care agency, an

assisted living community or a nursing home — families still

need to be involved. Families can better communicate with the

professional caregivers your loved one’s likes and dislikes, habits,

routines, concerns and all the other things that make them an

individual. Without your help and involvement, their senior care

may fall short of what they need and deserve.

Today, 90 percent of senior Americans prefer to stay at home as

they age. This means families are more directly involved than

ever in their loved ones’ senior care. So, it is more important than

ever that families be involved in the planning stage together. No

single individual can adequately handle the responsibilities of

care­giving alone, certainly not on top of other work, family and

community responsibilities.

In most families, there is usually one sibling who, based on

proximity to the aging parent, becomes the chief caregiver.

Deciding who that person will be is a good topic for the first

conversation with aging parents. Parents, of course, need to be

involved in every step of the decision­making process, so they

can maintain as much control of their lives as possible. This

cannot be stressed enough as the success of working through

issues with seniors relies heavily on their involvement in all


But no matter who is the chief caregiver, all siblings need to share

the responsibility in some way. This could involve home

maintenance, managing bill paying and finances, or taking care of

insurance and medical claim issues.

Also, do not forget the importance of frequent visitation. As you

brighten your parents’ day, you can monitor their health and

mental status and share concerns you have with their professional

caregiver. You may find that their elder care plan needs to be

modified to address changing circumstances.

What Should I Consider?

In choosing the most appropriate care for a senior loved one,

there are a number of decisions to make and questions to ask.

• What is the safest, most comfortable, most appropriate care

option for my parent?

• Is a family member nearby who can be of assistance at a

moment’s notice?

• What types of help does my parent need — for instance,

bathing, eating, transportation, etc.?

• How do my parent’s religious affiliation and other personal

preferences influence the type of care we choose?

To help find the senior care solution most appropriate for your

parents, you may consider having their physician conduct an

evaluation. Another option would be to consult with an in home

services company to provide a free home assessment to better

understand your options.

You may also consider options that match your parent's unique

traits and temperament. For instance, is your parent typically a

thinker or a person who loves to socialize? Thinkers desire space

and privacy. They prefer independence, reading and working

quietly alone. On the other hand, a person who loves to socialize

are energized by people. They enjoy interactions with others and

become lonely without regular interaction.

Also consider your parents past living experiences. Are they

accustomed to owning a home where they have acquired many

valued items? If so, they may find it difficult to leave. Or, are

they accustomed to an apartment or condo? This setting may

make it easier to adjust to smaller living areas with others nearby.

Choosing the best senior care option is a difficult decision.

Involving family members helps ensure that you consider all

factors and choose the best possible solution for your loved one.

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