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What to Do When Only One Parent Needs Advanced Care
There comes a time when seniors can no longer live safely and comfortably on their own. The realization can be challenging, but when one parent needs a different kind of care than the other, the transition to an assisted living or skilled care community can be even more difficult. Here, Emergency Preparedness and Violence Mitigationpresents guidance on what you can do to ease the process.
Help Them Accept the Situation
There's no way to get around it: your parents will need to accept that they may no longer live as close as they want, as most assisted living and memory care communities don't have double-occupancy rooms. While your parents may be able to live in the same community, they may not be allowed to live in the same apartment or room. In many cases one spouse will continue living at home while the other moves to a care center.
This can be a challenging and emotional decision to make. Still, it's important to realize that it may be the only viable option if one spouse requires specialized care.
It's essential to be proactive when it comes to finding the right community. Planning makes it possible for your parents to tour senior living communities together, find a place that offers the best accommodation options, and share their desires with the family. Also, being part of the decision can help them become comfortable with the idea of one spouse moving to a care community.
Also, be proactive about screening potential caregivers for issues of neglect and elder abuse. Although we don’t like to think these issues could happen to our loved ones, the reality is that it happens. In fact, 10% of older Americans have been abused, and that statistic rests only on abuse that has been reported. Fully research any facility you are considering before you relocate anyone to their care.
Consider the Needs of Both Parties
You'll likely focus on looking for a community that meets the needs of the parent requiring advanced care. However, it can also be easy to overlook the needs of the partner who requires less assistance. Ensure you pay attention to both parents’ needs. Social needs are as crucial as physical needs, so ensure they can socialize, take part in activities, and run errands on their own.
Figure Out Finances
Finances are another aspect you need to work out in this situation. Remember, Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care, though Medicaid may be one option, or there may be an option for VA benefits. But there are a lot of hoops to jump through here, and your parents need to be prepared for a lot of paperwork.
You can also discuss possible courses of action like selling the couple’s home to cover expenses. If they agree, you need to take inventory of their current assets, including cash savings, retirement accounts, securities, life insurance policies, and mutual funds. To figure out how much selling their property will yield, calculate equity by subtracting the remaining mortgage amount (if any) from the home's market price. The remaining amount is what your parents will earn (minus real estate fees and taxes) upon the sale of their home.
Step Back When You’re Feeling Stressed
It goes without saying that this is a stressful and often overwhelming time for your parents and you. Make sure you take some time for self-care; it’s easy to forget about yourself when you’re caring for others. When you feel stressed or emotionally drained by the experience, take a moment to step back, pause for a moment, and refocus. Keep your priorities in mind as you work through the options. And if something doesn’t sit right with you, listen to your gut. Our instincts are often right on track when our minds get in the way.
The Bottom Line
Figuring out nursing care for one parent can be a challenge. After all, no one wants to be separated from their life partner. Still, you can do a few things to ensure both seniors are safe and comfortable in the transition by being proactive in looking for facilities, considering their needs and wants, and securing financing early on. And be aware of the stress this decision evokes on your parents and on you. When you see tensions rising, encourage everyone to pause, breathe, and resume after a much needed break. This is an emotional process, and to treat it as anything less is unfair to everyone involved.