Our parents cared for us and now, as they age, it's natural that we want to care for them. At first, we figure we'll stop over at their home and do what they need us to do. That can work for while, when all that's needed is some help with errands, the lawn or fixing a meal now and then. It's kind of a pleasant way to help out and show our love for our parents.
However as care needs increase, we are faced with more decisions. Many of us promised in good faith, back when our parents were healthy, that we wouldn't ever put them in a nursing home. That would be abandoning them. We aim to care for them ourselves until they die.
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Admirable thinking. However, as years go by and care needs mount, we find ourselves faced with the fact that we can't raise our families, work our jobs and run to Mom and Dad's condo three times a day.
So, with some guilt, we start looking at other options. For some people, this means having your parents move in with you. If there is enough room so everyone has privacy and the personalities blend, this can work. However, before making such a move, make sure your head is as engaged as your heart. While you are considering this option, you also may want to read "Living With Elderly Parents: Do You Regret the Decision?"
Another option, though there is some guilt attached, is getting some in-home agency help. Why the guilt? Because you are now sharing the caregiving with someone else. Someone who is not a family member. You are hiring help for your parents. That isn't what you had in mind for them, but they are not safe alone all day, and you can't be there all the time. You have to do something.
The same guilty feelings are often attached to adult day care. Adult day care can be a wonderful choice for many seniors, as they get care and supervision, plus peer interaction and activities more stimulating than watching TV all day. But, this too means you are turning over some of the care to strangers. You were going to handle it all yourself. You told them you would. And now? You can't. You need help.
Then the day comes where in-home care can't handle all of their needs. Adult day care can't take care of them. Only one choice remains, and that is a nursing home.