Watching a relative get older is rarely easy, and it can bring up a whole host of practical and emotional challenges. Sometimes, an aging senior might be coping perfectly well one day, then suddenly decline the next. In other cases, declining health or abilities is much more subtle and long-term.
It’s not unusual for the adult children and relatives of seniors to feel overwhelmed by these changes, and confused about elder care options. But there are some key things you can look at to help you make the right senior care decision for your parent.
What to Assess When Planning Senior Care
When assisted living communities create customized care plans for new residents, the first thing they assess is how well a senior manages activities of daily living (ADLs). An ADL is essentially any task a senior must carry out each day to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing. ADLs can be split into basic ADLs (BADLs) and instrumental ADLs (IADLs).
The 6 Most Important BADLs are:
- The ability to move from place to place and walk independently.
- The ability to eat independently.
- The ability to choose appropriate clothing and get dressed successfully.
- The ability to maintain personal hygiene with regular bathing and dental, nail and hair care.
- The ability to successfully move to and from the toilet and use it appropriately.
- The ability to control their bladder and bowels effectively.
If you’re unsure about how to assess your loved one’s senior care needs, BADLs are an excellent place to start. These are the most essential daily tasks; if a senior is unsuccessful at just one of these, their quality of life may be quickly and drastically reduced.
What are IADLs?
While IADLs are a little different, they’re still well worth taking into consideration when planning elder care. IADLs typically require more complex cognitive activity than BADLs.
IADLs Include Things Like:
- Getting out and about to run errands and buy groceries.
- Managing personal finances and paying bills.
- Preparing and cooking meals.
- Keeping on top of home maintenance and cleaning.
- Communicating effectively with others.
- Medication management.
It may be helpful to write down these basic and instrumental ADLs and take some notes on how well your loved one is coping with each. This should help paint a clearer picture of the key issues your loved one is facing.
My Parent Isn’t Coping – Now What?
If you’ve assessed ADLs and noticed your loved one is in need of some additional support, there are a whole host of options you can look into. Here are just a few to fit differing levels of need.
- Moving in with family (or having family move to them).
If your loved one just needs a little extra support and companionship, it might be useful for them to move in with a close family member (or vice versa). However, with modern-day work and family commitments, this isn’t always a viable option.
- Adapting their current home.
If your loved one is still fairly independent but has physical barriers within their residence, consider making some home modifications to improve accessibility. This might include simple things like ensuring lighting is good and that trip hazards and clutter are minimized.
Alternatively, if your relative is struggling more significantly but wishes to age at home, larger changes like installing a fully accessible bathroom complete with grab bars and a curbless shower might be necessary. If your budget allows, hire an occupational therapist for support with making home adaptations to meet your relative’s unique mobility needs.
- Moving to an assisted living community.
Assisted living communities are another excellent option for seniors who value independence. Assisted living residents are able to stay fairly self-sufficient, renting either a room or a modern apartment within a community specially adapted for senior care.
Not only do assisted living communities typically offer things like group mealtimes, on-site amenities and assistance with mobility, medication management and personal care, but they also serve as an excellent social support network for aging seniors.
Something Else to Consider
While the emotional impact of elder care can be significant for family caregivers, the prospect of financing a senior’s care might be difficult, too. There are a variety of benefits and support programs available that your loved one could be eligible for. It’s well worth exploring, identifying and utilizing these wherever possible.
Assisted living communities often have expert advisors dedicated to helping with the financial aspects of the transition to elder care. Alternatively, organizations like benefits.gov and US Aging also offer vital resources and financial advice for family caregivers.
Honoring Your Needs
Figuring out the right course of action for your parent or loved one’s senior care can be tough – it’s not always easy to find the balance that allows you to take care of their needs while respecting their wishes. Wherever you’re at in this process, make sure you’re also taking care of yourself. While caring for an aging loved one might involve some sacrifices, it should never feel isolating or be detrimental to your mental or physical health.
If you struggle to take care of yourself just for you, consider this: are you truly able to offer the best care you can when you’re exhausted, unhappy or burned out?
Whether you’re caring for your relative at home or planning a move to assisted living, there is always support available. Do not hesitate to reach out to friends and family members, a caregiver support group, or your local assisted living community. Caregivers need not (and should not) ever feel alone in their journey.
For more information about Argent Court Assisted Living and our senior care programs which can support the independence of your loved one, contact us today!