Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4
When you get to senior age, you may need to explore your living options. You may decide to stay where you are, or downsize to a smaller place, join a living community, live with a relative, or have to stay in a facility where you can get the care and security you need if none of the above is an option. As we get closer to that age, we are beginning to consider a few of those options. However, what about our older senior parents who are still alive? They are in that season right now. How do you decide what options are best for your senior parents, or how do they decide what is best if they still are able?
Living Options Dilemma
My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years back. He still lived alone in his own house at that time. Since he was in the beginning stages, he was not in imminent danger or anything. Dad drove, cooked, cleaned house, dressed and cared for himself and his dog, and even went dancing at senior centers. Hence, he was a fairly active senior citizen.
My siblings and I all lived several states away, however, we were concerned about dad and started doing research. We explored living options and started to prepare ourselves for what was to come. The doctor prescribed medication for Dad and he was doing well. He kept his doctor appointments regularly and functioned as he always had.
Back in the eighties he had started driving the some 1800 miles to go see his kids. We enjoyed his visits and were glad to see him. When he developed Alzheimer’s, the trips became a source of anxiety for all of us. He would start on a trip fine, but by the second day of driving he would get lost or pass out from low blood sugar. Next, one of us would receive a call from the doctor or police station. Finally we planned which one of us was available to go pick him up and get him home. After a few days of visiting, he felt fine and had forgotten how he arrived.
We took him to visit houses and assisted living places in our area. He seemed very open, but said he needed to sell his house first. Much as we understood, we offered to help, but he refused. Eventually, we arranged for a neighbor(a retired nurse) to check on him everyday and take him a meal so we knew he’d be getting fed and have an idea he was doing okay. This went on for a couple years.
One day my uncle(dad’s only living sibling)took my dad to a doctor appointment. Dad could no longer legally drive at that point. Since the doctor wasn’t happy with my dad’s communication skills; he evaluated further him for a period of a few days. Furthermore, they decided that my dad could no longer live alone. Then my brother and uncle took steps to take care of dad’s needs.
Since we lived several states away, it took a while to find a place. Even though the doctor preferred a memory care facility, my brother found a place that would accept him in assisted living as they assessed him still capable of it. As a result, we explored a few different options.
Should we move him to live with one of us? Would a memory care or assisted living home be better? Perhaps a smaller residential home that provided such care with fewer residents would work? Could he keep his dog? Would the VA help with expenses and how to get that started ? What about dad’s house and vehicles and other belongings? Finally, what about medical care? Since we needed input from someone else, both my brother and I did consult with someone to advise and do research based on what our needs were. Consequently, the organization I used was called A Place For Mom.
Probably some of you may have faced a similar situation and had to make choices on what was best for your aging parent. What affected your decisions? It is obvious that no one choice is best for all, each situation is a little different. The parent’s health, mental condition, financial assets, and family support is different in each case. I’d love to hear from some of you what worked for you and why. Consequently here is a survey you might do to help out with the information posted in this blog.
Thanks for your time!
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do.”— Eleanor Roosevelt