Taking a parent to live in a nursing home is difficult. Many people who ask their parents to move to a skilled nursing facility often hear a flat-out “no!” After all, who wants to leave a home that they know to permanently live in a strange place, especially when they are in their senior years? Adult children are often consumed with guilt when asking a parent to move to a nursing home, thinking that they are upsetting or harming their loved one, that somehow it is abandonment.
Most people come to elder care after an event that makes it difficult or unsafe for the person to live on their own; or it highlights reasons why the elderly person should not have been living on their own for a while now. This can mean that the elderly loved one’s physical health has deteriorated, and other times it can mean that behavior and mental issues resulting from old age or illness have rendered an independent life impossible or dangerous.
No matter how our emotions may cloud reality, the truth of the matter is that your parent is in danger if they remain living alone – you understand that, which is why you are reading this and looking for a solution.
When a loved one is in the winter years of life, we are reminded that our time together is limited. This is especially true for people who have lost one parent already. When people lose a parent, it is a sorrow that never leaves, and they are missed every day. Therefore, when a second parent needs care, the children may feel that they must take on total care responsibilities. After all, if you miss one parent, how can you send the other to live away?
There is no way to change how much time we have together, but what you do have control over is the quality of time spent together rather than the quantity. The reality is that most people are not equipped to provide full-service medical and nursing help to their parents. That is, unless they are healthcare professionals, in which case they are likely busy at work all day. Leaving work to provide around the clock care to a loved one is not a luxury most people have, and no one wants to leave an elderly sick person home alone all day. Isn’t that why you are looking for the perfect nursing home for your parent in the first place?
At the end of the day, your parent’s health, safety, and long-term happiness is most important, and a decision made in service of those things cannot be worthy of guilt.
National Caregivers Day
Mother’s Day is in May; Father’s Day is in June; and Grandparents’ Day is in September – what about the people that take care of the grandparents? Coming up this month is National Caregivers Day, the soon-to-be annual recognition of the trusted people that take care of the elderly and the ill, which is held on the third Friday in February – this year on February 19.
Professional caregivers provide individual attention and treatment management for people who require long-term care or are in hospice care. Caregivers are entrusted with providing elderly and ill people with vital services to keep them going and to do so healthily. A caregiver’s job is to be medically trained and attentive while also providing compassion and companionship to their patients in a long-term nursing home environment, in a short-term rehabilitation setting, or in the patient’s own home.
National Caregivers Day is actually a brand new holiday, being officially established by Providers Association for Home Health & Hospice Agencies (PAHHHA) in 2015. The very first observation of National Caregivers Day will be this year on February 19. However, this day of observation will likely stick around, as there are dates already set and advertised through 2026. This nationwide observation comes on the heels of other caregiver-focused days and months, but those typically focus on family caregivers. Although family caregivers are the most common type in the United States, there is still an army of highly trained professionals that are providing immeasurable care and support.
This is a bandwagon that everyone is encouraged to hop on because it inspires a showing kindness and appreciation for those who work very hard to care for your loved ones. All families who have a loved one receiving care can participate in National Caregivers Day, it just takes a little imagination.
Buy a small gift for the caregiver that shows that your family appreciates their efforts. The gift is not about the monetary amount associated with it, it does not have to be expensive – keep it simple! Do you know if your parents’ caregiver enjoys jogging? Then an iTunes gift certificate can keep them in fresh music to keep their workout fun and challenging. Does the caregiver work long hours, starting early in the morning? Then they would appreciate a gift card to Starbucks to keep themselves caffeinated. National Caregivers Day is all about making a connection with the professionals charged with your loved one’s’ care and expressing gratitude
Robots Are the Future of Elder Care
In any economy, it is known that one of the most stable careers is one in medicine and in elderly care. No matter what, people will age and get sick, and therefore require medical care. And as time goes on and people age, they will require specialized care and attention. As constant as they may be, like medicine, elderly care is not immune to change over time and the influence of technology. Cutting edge technology is a strong force in medicine and now it is also making quite a splash in elderly care.
There is a great need for nursing home staff in the United States. By 2020, “direct care” is forecast to be the largest job category in the country. This need inspired the creation of robots and semi-autonomous machines that could provide a helping hand. The robotics company Luvozo created the SAM robot, an autonomous-human hybrid that costs nursing homes only 25 percent of what a qualified human nurse salary would cost, and even this early-stage model is able to perform some of a nurse’s tasks.
SAM helps nurses by moving around the nursing home and checking up on residents, looking for fall hazards like clutter and spills, and it has a link to a caretaker. The robot is even capable of smalltalk about sports and weather, to greet the residents when it enters. At this stage, SAM is a nurse’s assistant at-best. Although SAM is multi-capable, the robot cannot provide any medical care.
SAM has already been tested in a real nursing home. Last summer Luvozo introduced SAM into a Washington, D.C. nursing home with reportedly great results. Observers marveled at how residents quickly adapted to SAM, even asking the robot if it was having a good day. SAM could hit the market nationwide as soon as 2017, with additional features, like the ability for family members to leave video messages for their loved ones.
It is difficult to predict where this kind of elder care technology will lead, but it is clear that this is only the beginning. However, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of robot concierges like SAM. When the current youth grow to become the elderly population, they will be very accustom to having machines and technology all around them – but that is not true for the current older generation. After all, there is nothing like personal attention and contact from a caring person
Elderly and Disabled Care
It has been a bit of an uphill battle in the Illinois State Senate, but Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration finally announced that it is officially dropping its opposition to open care for the elderly and disabled. Previously, Governor Rauner had plans to limit which elderly and disabled Illinois residents could receive state-subsidized medical and other services.
Currently, the state of Illinois employs the Determination of Need score to assess a resident’s eligibility for subsidized care. The Determination of Need score takes things into account like help needed to perform daily tasks, with a greater need reflected by a higher score. The current minimum is a score of 29, but Rauner planned on raising the eligibility score to 37, which would have cut care to more than 34,000 Illinoisans.
Elderly and disabled care went to the chopping block as a part of the governor’s efforts to slash the state budget. In his cuts proposed earlier this year, $400 million was earmarked for the Illinois Department of Aging, targeting at-home and nursing home care. In July, rallies were held throughout the state, especially in Chicago, led by the SEIU and the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans. In the crowds were elderly people, family members, and healthcare workers – many of whom would stand to lose their jobs.
The state is still in the midst of a financial impasse and it is being felt throughout Illinois. Lottery winners have famously not been paid in several months, with many of them currently suing the state of Illinois. Although the House approved to begin payouts, House Speaker Mike Madigan refused to send the bill to Senate. Why is this bill important? It contains an earmark for snow-melting road salt, which is not being held up in the state government. Many suburban and downstate towns have not been able to properly prepare for this winter for the last 4 ½ months, while the budget stalemate rages on.
To help get this budget passed, democratic Representative Ken Dunkin cut a deal with Governor Rauner to remove cuts to services for senior citizens and childcare for the working poor, effectively costing Speaker Madigan his supermajority. This can end up costing Representative Dunkin his position in the government, as there is already a candidate running against him for the democrat seat in the next primary election. Not many are taking kindly to a democratic representative working with the governor on his own. In the end, however, it seems that some of the cuts to the elderly community are off the table.