If you have elderly parents you may have a worry in your mind about what will happen to them if they cannot look after themselves in the future. My own father is 95 and thankfully, with a little help and support from family members (mostly my sister!), he can still remain in the family home and enjoy a relatively active life, albeit a more sedate and restricted one. Knowing that someone is there to make sure his house is clean every week, that he has food brought for him every week, is a huge weight lifted but what if the time comes when we have to decide that a care home is a better solution for him? How does anyone go about making this all important decision on behalf of their most dearest family member? Perhaps to think that one day someone will be making this decision on our behalf would be a good place to start and respecting what is it the parent or grandparent are most needing at this time. Also how it will fit into your life and affect your relationship is something to consider. So let’s look at the main points.
Cost – This should not be the main factor in choosing a care home but unfortunately we have to be realistic and think of the long term logistics. Your loved one will be here for the rest of their lives so you have to be able to afford it. Can a property be sold to help pay for the expenses? Or can you look at government funded care homes? Either way the finances should be discussed long before you enter into any sort of agreement with a care home. And do not forget that many government benefits can still be paid to your loved ones whether they are in a home or not.
Facilities – You should think about what level of activities your loved ones are still able to manage as this will have a bearing on the type of home you consider. Some homes are generally for ‘palliative’ care only, this means that they are for the terminally ill and for people who are in the last stages of their lives. If your loved ones are still fairly active then look for a home that has clubs and outings booked, perhaps see if there is a notice-board with events scheduled or ask the manager. Are there regular bingo nights or trips out to the cinema that are arranged on a weekly basis?
Cleanliness – Use your eyes when having a look around and do not rely on the brochure. Are the beds changed daily? Is there a fresh smell to the place? Is the floor clean or sticky under your feet? Ask to look in the kitchens and see if there is a hygiene certificate. Do the residents look happy or miserable in their surroundings? This is often a sign that general hygiene is being neglected if current residents look unhappy as if the property is not being looked after properly then it is likely that neither are the people that reside there.
Distance – Does your loved one want to stay within his or her local area and would this mean a long distance trip for you to see them? Would they consider moving closer to where you live in order to see you more regularly? Is the surrounding area pleasant or would a move out into the country be more beneficial? A care home by the sea can be rejuvenating and provide a mini holiday of sorts for your loved ones final years.
Finally, remember that is it essentially what your loved one wishes that is most important. Studies have shown that if we give important decisions to our elderly parents they are more invigorated, more interested in life and have a more brighter outlook on life. So let them have the final say.