As you see the aging process affecting your parents’ quality of life, you might be concerned about how to meet their needs going forward. The good news is that San Diego has a myriad of services available for older adults, but many adult children aren’t sure where to start. The “lingo” can be confusing and it can take a lot of time to comb through the options. COVID-19 has introduced a new level of stress around ensuring the wellbeing of aging loved ones. There is a lot at stake, and it is important to “get it right.”
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin to form a plan with your parents:
What Does Your Parent Need?
Start by looking at your parent’s needs in terms of everyday support and medical care. Key areas of support include personal hygiene, cognitive health, home safety, medical care, nutrition, transportation, and social interaction. Older adults with chronic illnesses like diabetes, congestive heart failure, and Alzheimer’s disease have specific care needs that must be met.
How Can Family Help?
Evaluate your schedule and abilities as well as those of your family members who might be available to help. Do you have the time and willingness to provide physical support, such as living with the person or making frequent visits? Will your existing work and family obligations allow you to take this on? Sometimes adult children can step in as caregivers, but you should be careful to avoid burnout.
Where Does My Parent Want to Live?
Is it better for your parents to receive support in the home, or will their needs be served more effectively in a senior living community? If your parent wants to “age in place” at home, you can look for licensed home care providers in the local area that can help with meals, bathing, dressing, and more. Alternatively, it might make sense to find an assisted living community where your parent can engage in activities with people their age while also receiving help with their daily needs.
How Can We Work Together?
It can be hard for a parent to feel like they are losing control of their life. Aging can take a toll on independence. The best thing you can do is maintain open communication about the options so your parent can provide their input and preferences. After all, this is their life we are talking about.
Aging Life Care Managers®: Guides and Advocates for Families
You don’t need to face these difficult decisions without support. It can be helpful to work with an Aging Life Care Manager who can objectively evaluate your parent’s care needs, facilitate family discussion around the options, and provide you with a personalized list of local resources selected to meet your requirements.
An Aging Life Care Manager, also known as a geriatric care manager, is a health and human services specialist who helps families navigate the aging process. Aging Life Care Managers typically have a background in nursing, social work, gerontology, or a related field, with specialized training related to the needs of older adults. You should look for a care manager who has obtained certification from the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), a sign of their professionalism, expertise, and accountability to the ALCA code of ethics. To find an Aging Life Care Manager who can work with your family, visit the ALCA website at www.aginglifecare.org.
By Susan Valoff, LCSW, C-ASWCM, CDP, Vice President of Windward Life Care. Windward provides Aging Life Care Management, in-home caregiving services, and home health nursing services for families throughout San Diego County. Learn more at www.windwardlifecare.com.