Care-Giving of Elders at Home or Assisted Living: How Do You Decide

Sometime in our lives, functions decline and folks have to consider options. This is difficult for families, and sometimes it is the adult children who ultimately make the decision for their parents. Many times it is the senior citizen, individual or couple, who have to take charge of life and decide the next move. Often that next move is permanent, so it must be done with great thought.

The first consideration is physical safety. If one member is physically capable individually and is physically capable of taking care of a spouse, then home is the best place to be. On the other hand, many folks deny they are having difficulty caring for themselves or others, so it’s important to sit down together, with friends, or with family to discuss specifics. Are the main rooms for living on one floor and able to navigate? Has anyone fallen several times or had problems navigating at night? What barriers exist to getting in and out of the house or through rooms or doorways? Can these be adjusted and if so at what cost?

Security is another issue. If the senior lives in an area with close neighbors and has contacts regularly with them, then security may not be a problem. On the other hand, homes without close neighbors, relatives nearby or in cities that are congested may pose security risks for elderly, especially in high crime areas. If the living arrangement is made secure, it will go a long way in helping the senior to stay at home.

One important consideration for deciding whether or not a senior is able to live at home or has to move to an assisted living situation has to do with the ability to manage the tasks of instrumental living. In other words, can the person dress and feed herself/himself? What about cleaning and caring for the home? These are critical issues when deciding whether to move or not.

Finally consider mental and emotional factors. Many seniors are depressed living alone, without contact of other adults. Sometimes an assisted living or independent living situation is best to provide contact and comfort of others. Forgetfulness that can occur under stress or during the aging process is another consideration. When the senior forgets to take proper medication, to eat regularly or to otherwise care for himself/herself physically and emotionally, it’s likely time to have ongoing and regular help.

No one wants to think about moving out of a home, especially if it’s a place where an individual or a couple has spent many years. On the other hand, it’s possible to make a new living arrangement homey as well, not the edge off the pain of moving. It’s helpful to talk things through with family or friends before deciding, but in the end each person must stand alone in certain decisions, no matter how difficult they may seem. Every age has its dilemmas; this one will be solved like all others.

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