Maybe you’ve noticed that Dad’s unopened mail is starting to pile up by the front door. Or Grandma, once meticulous about her appearance, is wearing wrinkled or dirty clothes and not doing her hair. Perhaps there are bruises on your parent’s arms. When you bring up the subject, you hear, “Everything is fine. There’s no need to worry.”
But you do worry, and can’t let these images or thoughts escape your mind. Something is wrong.
The parent or grandparent you looked up as a role model growing up isn’t the same person as he or she was 30 years ago. They admit they need some help. Is that a bad thing? No. Denying there are problems when evidently there are is a problem. And admitting there is a problem is not a sign of weakness. Admitting a loved one needs help and accepting assistance is not easy for people as they age. To them, it represents a loss of independence.
This doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one has to go to an assisted living community or a nursing home, but it may require some extra help at home.
There are options available, and one of the most common ones is home care. Home care is generally defined as non-medical support services delivered at the home of a senior. These services include grocery shopping and meal planning and preparation, light housekeeping, hygiene assistance, medication reminders, errands and transportation, just to name a few.
If you’ve noticed the warning signs, the time to start talking to Mom and Dad is sooner rather than later. You immediately realize that it won’t be an easy conversation, but you can approach it this year: tell Mom and Dad what you’ve observed and ask them what they think is going on. Ask the parent/s what is a good solution to the problem. And if your parents don’t recognize a problem, use examples the unopened mail or dirty clothes.
Keep this in mind: you’re talking to an adult, not a child. Patronizing speech will put older adults on the defensive and convey a lack of respect for them. Put yourself in your parents’ shoes and think of how you would want to be addressed in the situation.
Home care agencies typically bill on an hourly basis for their services, and the rate varies depending on where you live. A New Yorker will pay more than someone contracting with an agency in Iowa. Paying for home care services is one of the most challenging issues for caregivers because most elders and families must pay for services out-of-pocket. Medicare and Medicaid do not pay for home care in most instances but it doesn’t hurt to inquire.
But don’t freak out. Some health and long-term care insurance plans provide coverage for home health care. Your loved one may have long-term care insurance which will cover these services as well.
In no way does this article presume solid legal advice. It is to serve as a consumer guide in the complicated world of long-term care and financial strategies. It is best to consult an elder law attorney who can properly advise and draw up the necessary legal documents.