As we assist our loved one into assisted living, we trust our loved one to the care of others. When we effect this permanent change, the authors feel that it is the responsibility of the family to be aware and comfortable, at all times, that their loved one is in a safe and healthy environment which provides the compassionate care and competent treatment they need.
The authors are not qualified to make psychological diagnoses. However, after years of communicating with hundreds of families who were considering assisted living or other senior care arrangements, they can offer observations about a typical family's actions, feelings and emotions during this difficult time.
The process of recognizing a problem with a loved one's independence, and subsequently assisting them into another living arrangement, is complex and difficult.
First, consider your loved one.
The financial crisis has touched us all, but it has been particularly stressful for caregivers, whose financial resources even in the best of times are typically stretched thin. While restoring the economy to health is beyond the power of any one individual, caregivers can impose some order on their own personal financial world by setting spending limits and monitoring their expenses. A well-developed budget gives caregivers a tool that can help them make the most of each dollar of income, ensuring they get the maximum bang for their buck.
If you're a caregiver, you're not alone. There are an estimated 34 million Americans who provide care for an older family member or friend. And as you probably suspected, caregiving can involve a substantial investment of money as well as love. That assumption was confirmed by a recent survey of 1,000 family caregivers conducted by the nonprofit National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, a national health care coordinator.
In the course of compiling Family Caregivers—What They Spend, What They Sacrifice, researchers documented how much caregivers spend:
As a caregiver, you are constantly being called on to learn something new or to make yet another decision on behalf of your loved one. Often these challenges can be difficult. The knowledge you need to master can be complex or highly technical, and the decisions you're confronted with can involve a high level of uncertainty. At such times, there's not only strength in numbers but also comfort and wisdom.
As a caregiver, you are naturally committed to ensuring that your loved one remains as independent as possible—and right now that may mean assistance in living at home. But looking to the future, changes in your circumstances or your loved one's health might make a move to an assisted living community necessary. It's better for both of you to explore your options now, to anticipate an occasion that might not happen, rather than to be caught unprepared.
Do Your Homework
If you have children and are also caring for an aging parent, you're a member of the sandwich generation—and you're not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 10 million boomers are now raising kids or supporting an adult child while providing financial assistance to an aging parent.
Jugglers and Ringmasters