Taking Care of Mom and Dad
If you’re among the growing number of U.S. parents who themselves have aging an aging mother or father, recent holiday visits may have revealed new or growing physical limitations for your loved ones.
If it has been some time since you’ve seen your parent, these changes can be a shock. Mom isn’t playing tennis three times a week anymore. Dad can’t sail around the kitchen pulling Thanksgiving dinner together. If you’re able to see your parents often, the changes appear more gradually, but at some point we come to realize that they may not be able to live as independently as they once did. “Welcome to the sandwich generation” is a cliché you’ve probably heard, but it becomes very real to parents who find they are caring both for their own children at home and aging parents.
In generations past, the only alternatives available to many people as they aged were to stay at home (sometimes with a compromise in safety), move in with relatives, or move to a nursing home. Seniors today have other options. Some contractors are trained to modify homes for safety. Many seniors move to independent living communities, where they maintain an active social live and the freedom to come and go as they please in an environment designed to prevent falls and other accidents. But making these decisions can be stressful and confusing.
If you find yourself sandwiched, you don’t have to go it alone. From arranging health care to assessing safety hazards in the home, there are many services adult children can tap to ensure their aging parent is living in as safe and comfortable an environment as possible. Resources range from free social services to private-pay professionals.
Following is a list of the types of services available in many communities. If your parent lives out of the area, you can usually start with that county’s Office on Aging or Senior Services Center to get information.
TARCOG – Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments – A clearinghouse of services for the aging population from caregiver respite to legal and health insurance advice.
CASA – Care Assurance System for the Aging and Homebound – A nonprofit agency serving Madison County, CASA provides services to individuals age 60 and older and to the homebound (wheelchair and bed bound) of all ages. CASA volunteers build wheelchair ramps, weatherize homes, maintain a vegetable garden provide visits, home safety items and other services to help ensure seniors’ safety and well-being.
Huntsville-Madison County Senior Center – offers a wide range of services and activities for seniors in Madison County. Services include Meals on Wheels, on-site meals, computer training and other education, and even a clearing house for seniors who want to volunteer in the community. For a complete list of local resources, click on the “Senior Services Directory” link on the left side of the center’s home page.
Geriatric Care Managers – These private-pay professionals can be an invaluable resource when determining the safest environment for your loved one. Services range from home safety assessment to facilitating family meetings to ease conflicts that often arise when family members disagree on the best route of care. Click the link for a list of geriatric care managers in your area.
Patient Advocates – Patient advocates can help individuals and families who are struggling to work their way through the complex U.S. healthcare system. Services range from accompanying patients to appointments to assisting with insurance claim denials. For a list of patient advocates near you, click link above or see https://nahac.memberlodge.com/.