We’re delighted to introduce a fellow writer who is committed to making a difference in tough journeys. Carol Marak hails from Texas where she cared for her mother with Congestive Heart Failure and her father living through Alzheimer’s. Both parents needed a lot of care and attention. Carol says, “Those years taught me many things, but mostly I learned compassion for the elderly and for the family. You can’t know what it’s like until you live through it.”
In today’s feature, Carol provides a “check-list” to help readers when a parent needs more care at home …
It’s a challenge to keep an aging loved one at home when he (or she) begins to lose weight because of poor diet and loneliness. My family had this experience with our Dad. It happened after our Mother’s death. Dad was very sad and lonely. He lost his appetite and ate very little. We hired home care help, but he insisted we fire her. We believed that an assisted living facility was his only hope. But we were wrong.
Dad wanted to stay home but living alone was making him sick. He ignored food, he lost interest in his hobbies, and he began to have problems in dressing, and incontinence. He also began to lose balance and fall frequently. It was frightening. Watching him slow down to a crawl and seeing him decline in everyday functioning was worrisome. Eventually, he depended on us – the family – more and more.
Dad’s physician designed a plan for us to follow. The doctor insisted that we involve our Dad in the plan so that his wishes and desires would be honored. The first step was to talk with Dad and learn his feelings related to staying at home. It was also important to recognize his right to make his choices related to care; even though we might disagree.
The areas we explored:
- Has Dad made any future long term plans?
- Would he like to remain in at home with assistance?
- Does he want to explore alternative housing?
- Which family members would he like to help him at home?
- Has he taken steps in financial planning, long term healthcare insurance, Living Will, power of attorney?
Obtaining an Assessment
Before we could develop a care plan, we had to determine Dad’s ability to remain safely independent, along with his strengths, weaknesses, and areas of concern. The doctor recommended a Geriatric Assessment. It evaluated:
Basic activities of daily living (ADLs) – his daily self-care activities (e.g. eating, dressing, bathing, using the toilet.)
Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) – focus on his activities such as shopping, cooking, taking medication, managing finances, using a telephone.
- Physical Examination
- Chronic Pain
- Substance Abuse
- Paranoia, delusions, behavior abnormalities
- Social Interaction
- Identify present and potential caregivers
- Evaluate his safety and physical barriers
- Transportation to doctors, shopping
Financial Evaluation (e.g. financial resources, ability to manage own finances, advance medical directives)
Additional Considerations: Nutrition, Sleep Medications, Medication Management, and Community Resources
The family resumed discussions and decided who would share in the caregiving tasks. We decided if Dad wanted to stay home, then we would need to make a schedule and hire outside help for the other things.
And later, if an assisted living facility comes into play, then we’d decide which care facility and type of room would fit his needs. But until his demands escalate, we’d wait to make that choice.
Home Care Services
- companionship and reassurance
- medication management
- meal preparation
- assistance with bathing, dressing, and toileting
- housekeeping chores
- transportation to doctor’s appointments
Adult Day Care Services
- Meals and recreational activities
In the end, Dad grew more content but better than that – he gained weight and became motivated to get involved in his life again.
Get in touch with Carol Marak on LinkedIn or by email at Carol@SeniorCare.com. She advocates for older adults and family caregivers by writing on tough topics like chronic issues, senior care, and housing. Her researched articles for senior living and healthcare can be found at AssistedLivingFacilities.org and SeniorCare.com.