Caring for an elderly or disabled loved one prior to COVID-19 was a significant undertaking. Now, as the pandemic continues, there are increased challenges when looking after family members in need. This is especially true if the health of this individual has recently started to decline enough to warrant long-term care.
As you strive to provide your loved ones with the care they need, consider the following tips courtesy of the Consumer Education Council to ensure a smooth transition.
Communicate with care and sensitivity
The combination of COVID-19 restrictions and your family member’s declining health can be a perfect storm for intense emotions and harsh words. Even the kindest and most caring of people can behave in ways they wouldn’t otherwise when faced with a major, life-altering change.
In all situations, be sure that you communicate with care and sensitivity. Being reactive and exchanging hurtful words will only make the situation far worse. Diffuse tense moments with kind words, a calm demeanor, and fact-based statements.
The anger, frustration, and sadness that your loved one is feeling almost certainly have nothing to do with you. Looking at challenging conversations from this perspective will further enhance your sense of compassion toward this individual.
Discuss all available options with your loved one
In many neighborhoods, there are quality assisted living options available. The one that you and your loved one select will depend on a number of factors.
First, consider the full scope of your family member’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. To do this, you will need to have a discussion with the individual you are caring for. Can they safely stay in their home with in-home care services? Or, is their condition declining rapidly enough that they need to move into a full-time facility?
Balance listening to their needs and preferences while also looking out for their welfare. Ideally, you will be able to come to an agreement on the care option that is most suitable for every need and want.
Can they age in place?
Most seniors are adamant about staying in their home, and with good reason. A loss of independence can be shattering. However, if your loved one needs help even if they can manage alone most of the time, in-home care services could be a great choice here. This ensures your loved one ages in place and has the necessary care to supplement their independence.
The downside to this option is the cost, since home care services tend to be fairly expensive depending on the services needed. One great compromise is for your loved one to sell their home and move into an apartment. This can free up cash that can go toward living expenses and care. Local rental guides can help you and your loved one winnow down your choices to find the right place at the right price.
Should they move in with you?
Many families try to help their loved ones enjoy the best of both worlds by bringing aging parents to live with them. This is a tall order for both parties, and it will require some lengthy discussions.
The beauty of this scenario, however, is that it provides time with your loved one you might not have otherwise, you can see in real-time how they’re doing and it can help them avoid burning through their bank account.
In some instances, it might require making modifications to your home to make sure your loved one is safe. These types of upgrades can vary from super cheap to very costly. To offset the costs, it might be worthwhile to refinance your home. This enables you to access some of your equity and possibly lower your monthly payment. Plus, the added modifications could add value to your property.
Just be sure to find a lender you like and to check cash-out refi rates to see if it’s something that won’t negatively affect your finances.
When long-term care is the only option
For seniors who require a significant amount of care, it’s in their best interest to be in a community that provides everything they could possibly need. And this can be a very challenging transition for everyone – both due to the stigma associated with such a move as well as the cost.
If your loved one does not have the money to pay for full-time assisted care but knows that this is the safest long-term decision, there are ways to ease the financial burden. What many seniors choose to do at this stage is sell their home and use the proceeds to fund their care. If your family member is in a similar situation, propose this option to them.
At all stages of transitioning your loved one to assisted care, listen to their needs and desires. Even if their requests are not reasonable, compromise as much as you can. Show them love and compassion at every stage, and don’t be afraid to ask for help during this challenging time.