The question of whether to send our ageing parents to a long-term care home or not is a question that has been distressing Amy and her sister for months. As their father’s primary caregiver, Amy finds it getting harder and harder to keep up with the speed of his aging.
“I really do think we should send dad to a long-term care home,” says Amy. “They have better equipment and professionals to deal with any situations that may occur.”
“Well, sending him to a novel environment could only exacerbate his symptoms,” replied Amy’s sister. “And he clearly said he’ll never leave the house. If you are feeling overwhelmed, we can hire a caregiver for him.”
“It’s not about me feeling tired and overwhelmed,” sighed Amy. “It’s about him getting a better quality of care.” “Frankly speaking, you don’t really know his situation. After all, it has been me taking care of him all this time.”
Another unpleasant conversation ends, just like usual.
Keeping ageing parents at home may cause distress for many families, but sending them to a long-term care home isn’t a panacea to every problem, either – there are pros and cons you need to take into account to make the best solution for you and your family.
Today, we are going to talk about the good and the not-so-good in each option. Hope it helps to make your decision easier.
Let’s get started.
What’s Good About Aging In Place?
First and foremost, familiarity is the main reason why seniors want to age at home. Familiarity of the home environment provides security for senior. Living in a familiar surrounding can ensure happiness and comfortability, which is greatly beneficial for seniors’ well-being.
2. Remaining Independent
Although some seniors need companionship and helpers with their daily activities, they still care about their independence. Ageing at home makes seniors think they are still capable of taking care of themselves, which will further help them to acquire the ability to live independently; a virtuous circle for healthy seniors.
3. More Control Of Life
Who doesn’t love freedom? Ageing in place allows seniors to have more control of choosing the lifestyle they want. For example, instead of following the routine and diet that other people have set for them, they can have their own flexible schedule and preferences when it comes to food. This, again, maintains independence for seniors.
4. Closer amily Bonds
Whether family members are living with the senior or not, it is more helpful in maintaining good family relationships if your loved one stays at home. Family members can visit the senior whenever they want and can spend more time doing fun things together. Home is always home, no matter how far you travel – it is always a place for you to reunite.
However, There Are Drawbacks
1. Physical Safety
Without question, the home environment can’t provide enough safety measures for seniors, especially those with mobility issues. Remodeling a home for seniors to live takes time and effort, but in not doing so, seniors may experience a deterioration of their symptoms in a very short time. We have all heard about the tragedies of seniors falling down and not getting help in time, leading to agonizing consequences for both the senior and the family.
Some seniors with mobility or cognitive issues may be unable to prepare meals, or go grocery shopping, which may lead to malnutrition. Hiring a caregiver or even someone to cook may help with this.
3. Increased Responsibility For Families
Just like Amy, seniors who live at home will certainly increase the workload of their families. Especially when the children have their own career or family to focus on, squeezing time from their hectic life to take care of their ageing parents may not be beneficial for both parties. In this case, hiring a caregiver may relieve the burden a lot.
Many grown up children choose not to live with parents, and when they live too far, senior isolation may occur. We have previously published a post on “Senior Isolation” and explained how detrimental it could be to the senior’s quality of life. So, check it out and see how to decrease the harm if you are not able to be around your loved one enough.
Now, let’s talk about seniors living in a long-term care home.
What’s Good About Living In A Long-Term Care Home?
1. Staffed With Professionals To Meet Different mMedical Needs
There are not just personal care workers in long-term care homes. In fact, some long-term care homes provide various professionals that focus on different conditions, and even emergency situations. Plus, the care they provide is around the clock, which is something barely achievable for in-home care.
2. Seniors Have Social Connections With Staff & Other Residents
Maintaining a social circle is specifically important for seniors. Long-term care homes create multiple opportunities for seniors to actively engage in social interactions. These opportunities include various clubs, social events, performance and volunteer opportunities. Participating in these activities can give seniors a sense of purpose, prevent loneliness and improve their social skills, which in turn benefits the seniors’ relationships with their families.
3. Suitable For Seniors With Cognitive & Mobility Impairment
Long-term care communities are designed for seniors with different types of challenges. Most have alert systems and different accessible equipment. All long-term care homes need to follow the government’s design manuals to ensure their residents to age safely.
4. Relieves Burden On Senior’s Families
If the senior requires a lot of care, sending him or her to a long-term care home greatly alleviates some burden for families. It’s not only about decreasing care duties, but also about relieving financial obligations. Hiring a full time caregiver, in most cases, is more expensive than living in a long-term care home.
There Are Drawbacks, Too.
1. Seniors May Need Time For Transition
Although there’s “home” in “long-term care home”, it’s hard for strange places to feel like “home” immediately once moving there. It usually takes quite a period of time for seniors to adapt to their new life in long-term care communities, and such a transition could result in many negative psychological and physical responses. See our blog post on “Tackling Fear And Anxiety During The Transition Into Long-Term Care” to see the details.
2. Loss Of Dependency Make Seniors Feel “Old”
Yes, your loved one is old according to his or her age, but no one wants to “feel old” and “live old”. Living in a long-term care community may make the seniors feel that they have lost independence and privacy. This would make them feel “old” and “vulnerable”, which is not good for both the seniors and the staff. Seniors may behave strangely in the way that they feel about themselves.
3. More Preparation Is Required On Choosing The Right Long-erm Care Home
In our provious blog post on “How to Select a Long-Term Care Home”, (CTA)we discussed how it takes a lot of time and effort to choose a “good” home for your loved one. If you haven’t read it yet and are considering whether or not to send your family to a long-term care home, check it out now and don’t forget to download the free checklist!
4. Not Easy For Family Members To Visit
Long-term care homes aren’t like shopping malls – you need to make appointments to visit most of the time, especially during a pandemic. Some long-term care homes may even cancel visitation depending on the circumstances. In that, the family members may feel rejected and distant from their loved ones.
At the End:
There are many factors you need to consider when deciding on whether to send your loved one to a long-term care home or let them stay at home. It’s important to communicate with your loved one and respect their feelings. So, instead of deciding “for” your loved one, try deciding “with” them. Respect and empathy are always important traits of happy senior living.