When healthy adults are asked would they rather stay home or move to a nursing home, the answer is obvious. When residents of facilities are asked if they would like to come home, the answer is typically the same. Studies demonstrate that most people would rather stay home and “age in place.” The exceptions I have heard, all from women, have been they do not want to remain at home if their family has to take extreme measures to care for them. A common expression is “I do not want my daughter to have to go through what I did <in caring for a very frail parent or one with dementia.>
What studies do not ask is “at what cost” in time, money, safety and emotional stress should I stay home? I think most people are thinking they will need a few hours a day of care a few days a week. Certainly their family should be able to care for them or they could bring someone in for those few hours to help. Sometimes, though, the help that is needed is 24/7 and involves patrolling hallways to make sure parents do not fall or following spouses everywhere concerned that they may wander. Another question would be what sacrifices would you expect from your family to keep you at home in extreme conditions.
What is tragic is the guilt that some family members feel when their parent or loved one eventually needs care outside the home even after they have successfully managed to keep their spouse or parent home for many years.
Here are some questions to ask:
Dr. Linda Rhodes in her book, “Should Mom Be Left Alone? Should Dad Be Driving,” devotes an entire section to “Living with Chronic Illness” and others on dealing with depression, what is a mini-stroke, what are the signs of dementia or Alzheimers, how to cope with wandering, how a parent can come home and cope with recuperation from a hip fracture, what eye diseases should older adults be concerned about, and what do we need to know about pain management.
Many caregivers deal heroically with the strain of caring for a family member at home. They need to know they are not alone and they also deserve and need breaks to keep them going.
Esquire, Colliton Law Associates, P.C. Janet Colliton has practiced law for over 38 years, 37 of them in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Her practice, Colliton Law Associates, PC, is limited to elder law, Medicaid, including advice, applications and appeals, and other benefits planning including Veterans benefits, life care and special needs planning, guardianships, retirement, and estate planning and administration.