Caring for aging parents well can become too difficult, and families may want to turn to assisted living. Here’s how to decide which option is right.

Caring for aging parents: Assisted living options

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It’s natural that as time goes on, family roles reverse. Parents go from being the caregivers to the care recipients.

Yet, if a parent has a condition like Alzheimer’s disease, limited mobility or chronic illness, that caregiving can become more and more difficult to do.

That’s when many families turn to assisted living, though the landscape can be confusing. There are many options — and no one option is best for everybody.

Here are common questions families have when caring for aging parents and deciding what type of care is best for them.

Does Assisted Care Mean Giving Up On A Parent?

Not at all. In many families considering assisted care, the children may feel confused, overwhelmed and guilty. But contrary to what some children fear, assisted care isn’t giving up on a parent or being a bad child.

Assisted care ensures patients receive the quality of care they need without undue pressure on their families. Without assisted care, seniors may have needs neglected simply because children have multiple responsibilities with career, family or relationships.

What’s Best For Seniors Who Need Assistance But Are Still Somewhat Independent?

Assisted living facilities are an option. Here, seniors live by themselves in their own living spaces. They can still participate in social activities and are active members of a community.

At the same time, they have help with day-to-day activities as they need it. Seniors in the early stages of progressive diseases like Parkinson’s, or struggling with other chronic conditions, might enjoy the mix of support and independence offered by assisted living.

What’s Best For Seniors With Major Medical Needs?

For seniors who are still somewhat functional but have major medical needs, such as feeding tubes or are in later stages of dementia, a nursing center may be more appropriate.

Nursing centers offer more support than assisted living centers without limiting residents to a hospital.

What If Needs Are Only Short Term, Such As Injury Or Temporary Function Loss?

If a senior needs post-surgery care and is not quite ready to go home, rehabilitation centers may be the answer. These are for seniors with serious, short-term problems.

With the help of equipped rehab facilities, physical therapists and occupational therapists work with seniors to heal and regain full function.

What If A Parent Needs Care But Is Able To Stay At Home?

Home care services may be the best option for seniors with certain medical conditions receiving ongoing therapy and treatment at home. Services can range from in-home skilled nursing care to supplying medical equipment and supplies.

Seniors who are sick and shut-in can also participate in a mobile meals program. Meals planned by a nutritionist get prepared and delivered to the home. The program can be done on a long- or short-term basis, and there are no age restrictions.

For seniors who need round-the-clock care but would prefer to receive care in their homes, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE, is available.

This service provides total care for frail seniors, ranging from full medical and rehabilitation services to meeting transportation needs.

Where Can A Senior With A Chronic Or Terminal Disease Go Besides The Hospital?

Palliative care may be the best option in this case.

Unlike what people think, palliative care is not only for end-of-life care. It provides holistic support for seniors at all stages of treatment for a condition. This means management of physical symptoms, along with psychological and social problems that may occur.

What Option Exists When A Senior’s Condition Has Deteriorated Beyond Palliative Care?

The end-of-life stage is extraordinarily difficult in many ways, for both an individual and their families. Hospice care can provide all medical needs, while offering unceasing emotional support to everyone involved.