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What's the Greatest Challenge in Caring for an Aging Loved One?

By: Commonwealth Senior Living / 21 Jul 2022
What's the Greatest Challenge in Caring for an Aging Loved One?

At Commonwealth Senior Living, improving the lives of seniors and their families is central to everything we do. We've found the best way to further support these individuals is simply by asking. So we asked families what the greatest challenge in caring for an aging loved one has been for their family and here's what we learned: 

Greatest challenge in caring

Overall, 35.1% of families said that budgeting or covering the cost for care is the greatest challenge. It can be difficult to find out the specific costs of senior living because unlike homes for sale, cars, and other large purchases, the cost of senior living is unique to each individual. It includes not only the cost of the suite itself, but also the care each individual needs. In most cases, the level of care needed can't be determined without an in-person assessment. While it may feel like the true cost is hidden, a more accurate statement is that it's difficult to provide the full financial picture without all the information about an individual's needs. Our pricing calculator allows you to compare your current monthly living costs with the starting rates and fees at one of our communities, including the base rent for the suite you choose as well as the first level of care.

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The second greatest challenge for families was said to be convincing a loved one to move into senior living. We understand starting the conversation about adding additional support may be intimidating, but we want you to know you are not alone. Don't get us wrong, it won't be easy. You may feel guilty over wanting to move your loved one from the home they love and at the same time feel fearful about what may happen to them if you don't. However, going about this conversation in the right way will ensure your loved one will live safely, have a higher quality of life, and you will have peace of mind knowing you did the right thing. Here are a few of our tips for starting this difficult conversation with your loved one:  

  • Choose your timing wisely. Pick the right time of day when your loved one is rested and typically open to conversation. Use a soft tone throughout, and be prepared to ask, "What will need to happen for you to be ready?" 
  • Create your plan for the conversation. Have notes prepared listing your concerns with the current situation and potential solutions for each concern. Be prepared to address the worst-case scenarios of not making a change. 
  • Involve a trusted professional. Sometimes bringing in an unbiased, third party can be helpful. Maybe this is a trusted physician to lead the conversation with you or a pastor to provide support through spiritual advice and counseling. 

The next greatest challenge families are facing is balancing care for a parent with work and home life. Caring for a loved one at home can be extremely challenging. Oftentimes, we become stressed by the situation and don't know where to turn for help or guidance. What caregivers must remember is that their health is ultimately as important as those they are looking after and that we're all human. Setting goals for ourselves is critical to our growth, but it's important to set attainable goals. Don't be afraid to set priorities and celebrate success even if it's for small tasks. Learn more tips for caregivers from our Vice President of Resident Programs here. 

Another one of the challenges families are facing is feeling guilty that their loved one's care needs are beyond what the family can handle. While we may not know the details of your family's unique situation yet, your spiritual leaders, friends, and other family members may. Speak to your pastor, family therapist, or best friend about the way you are feeling. Most likely, that individual has been through a similar experience with their own loved one, or knows someone who has. Getting connected by joining a support group with others who are experiencing similar situations can help tremendously. Contact the community nearest you to find out more about our Support Groups.  

Another 10.5% of families worry that their loved one is not safe in their current environment. While we all aspire for our golden years of retirement to be filled with doing things we love in the comfort of our own homes, there are often physical struggles that get in the way of this. Picture yourself returning from a visit with Mom and Dad. Ask yourself how the visit went. Did they appear happy? How was the condition of the home? You may believe some of the changes you're noticing are a normal part of getting older, but it's important to recognize the differences between normal and abnormal aging. Learn the differences here. 

Maybe you've discovered that Mom and Dad have been having issues managing their affairs independently but would still like to stay at home for as long as possible. This would likely mean making some adjustments to the home, which can vary in cost depending on the amount of work needed, your location, and what type of care you need as well. Here are more tips for home improvement. 

But maybe you're wondering if staying at home is no longer an option. Here are a few of the most common clutter habits and conditions that should be seen as safety concerns:  

  • Trip and fall hazards: Clutter on the floor and in walkways is not only a common household safety issue, but potentially the most dangerous for a senior due to health risks from falls. Look for traffic areas where items need to be stepped over or around, especially stairways. 
  • High stacking on upper shelves: When items like board games, albums, or serving pieces are stacked above shoulder height, there is a risk of the stack toppling over onto your loved one.  
  • Expired food and medication: When items are not routinely purged, it can result in confusion. Beyond the inconvenience of searching for misplaced items, ingesting expired food or medication can be dangerous. Look for food stored past their use by date and expired medications stored alongside current ones. 
  • Blocked exits: The space behind doors is a tempting out-of-sight spot for clutter, but it's important to ensure all doors are clear of debris and can open fully in case of an emergency where first responders need to access these entrances. 
  • Duplication or excess: When basic household items are hard to locate because of clutter, it's often more convenient to run to the store to pick up a replacement instead of searching for the thing you think you have. With aging seniors, large volumes of duplicated purchases may also be an indicator of cognitive decline affecting memory or impulse control. 
  • Learn more signs here. 

Lastly, families are concerned about getting everyone on the same page. It can be difficult to suggest the idea of a move to community living, especially if there are multiple people involved in making that decision. Perhaps you've tried to broach the topic with these family members in the past only to have the dialogue break down in frustration or stalemate. Although it might feel better to leave that stone unturned, avoiding the topic can lead to bigger challenges in the future. Understanding and appreciating everyone's vulnerability around the topic can lead to a more meaningful conversation. When everyone has come to the table, here are some tips on maintaining a productive and meaningful dialogue. 

But don't forget, we are here to help you navigate this journey. Separating a big decision like this into several smaller decisions can make it more manageable. We've partnered with a research firm to help families determine the appropriate level of support for their loved ones. The answer to this may look different for everyone, but our hope is that this assessment and guidance will be helpful in getting families on the same page when necessary and in finding the right fit for them. 

Determine the right level of support

If you've realized it's time to make the move, click the button below to contact the community nearest you and schedule a visit. 

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