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Value of Care

Research the amount of care your loved one will receive with regard to the expense involved. You should reach a balance between your loved one’s current cost of living and the cost involved in his or her enhanced level of care received. Put these costs in perspective. Consider the types of services or items that may be included with the cost of an assisted living. Services such as laundry, housekeeping, and provided meals may end up providing a cost savings.

When Home Care Is Not Enough

Non-medical home care may provide monitoring, medication reminders, light housekeeping, cooking, and hands on personal care. Putting these services in place can be a life saver by allowing relief for family caregivers. However, these services may average from $15-25 an hour and are not typically covered by medical insurance.

What if family members are not available to fill in the gaps of time not covered by the home care provider? What if dad has some dementia, and is at risk of leaving home and getting lost?

Depending upon the level of need and the hours of monitoring/care needed, it may become cost prohibitive to maintain care at home. There comes a point in which an assisted living home or community may be a better value in terms of amount of care and cost.

Anticipating the Future

Uncertainty about the future is common among the elderly, especially during times of transition. The transition into an assisted living community can feel overwhelming. Worry, anxiety, fear, and helplessness are some emotions that the elderly person might feel.

While it is natural to have these feelings, there are some actions that can be taken by caregivers and family to ease their loved one's mind.

Give hope by focusing on the abilities that a loved one still has instead of the loss of certain functions. Set some goals to accomplish. Plan an outing or a special activity together at the community. Anticipating a future event or activity gives the elderly person something to look forward to.

The Reality of Parent Care

A child may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of taking over the physical, emotional, social and financial concerns of their aging parent. The reality of responsibility on top of their own life may seem unmanageable.

Depending upon the past and current relationship between parent and child, there may be feelings of resentment, apprehension, or inadequacy.

Reaching out for help and advice may lessen the worries of the child. A local agency on aging may be a good place to start. Often these organizations have information about local resources, support, and education.

Caregiving From a Distance

Caring for a loved one when you live in a different town may be challenging. How do you know Mom is taking her medications? How do you know if Dad is not overexerting himself?

There are several steps you can take to ease the stress that comes with long-distance caregiving. Schedule check-in times. Regular phone calls can be a good way to check in. Schedule a specific time of day and/or days of the week that you will call.

Some seniors have difficulty hearing on the phone. Arrange for special equipment if needed. Ask open-ended questions so that you elicit a response other than yes or no. When you listen to your loved one, make note of how they speak. Listen for changes in how they are connecting with you. Is their tone different? Are they less engaged than normal?

Email and video chats are also good options for contact. It may be easier for Mom to let you know how she's feeling by typing rather than talking. A video chat may assist you in seeing how Dad is looking physically.

Enlisting Local Support

When you are caring for someone from a distance, it may be beneficial to enlist the help of friends or other resources in the local community. Consider asking one of your parent's friends, church members, relatives, or neighbors to check in on a regular basis. Communicate to this person some of your concerns or wishes. Ask that they let you know if something looks amiss.

Identify who can be contacted in an emergency. Knowing that a trusted individual is nearby in time of need is reassuring. Be sure to offer a thank you of some type. Be willing to reimburse someone for their time in actual payment or gift card. Even if the friend is unwilling to accept payment, a thank you note is always a great way to show appreciation.

No trusted people nearby? Consider community resources. Good places to start are your Area Council of Aging, local churches, and non-profits serving families and seniors. Even if the organization does not have its own companion program, it more than likely can direct you to a place that does.

Listening and Dementia

Do you remember a time when you were trained to practice "active" listening rather than "passive" listening? Active listening is not only beneficial in the professional work environment, but also plays an important role in communicating with those with dementia.

Listening begins with silence. Focus on what they are telling you and do not interrupt. Paraphrasing or repeating back what the person has said to you, even if it doesn't make sense, shows that you have heard what they are telling you. The goal is to show that you care and respect what they have to say.

It also may help you to understand their point of reference. It is common to feel the need to argue or to provide correction when what is said does not make sense. People with dementia often get facts wrong or remember events incorrectly. It is okay.

There is no reason to insist upon being right. Step in to the other person's world and honor their memory no matter if it is their own creation. Who knows, maybe their version is more interesting!