Options When Your Loved One Can No Longer Live Safely On Their Own

You may have been caring for your aging loved one for a significant amount of time. Maybe you are just starting on this challenging journey. Either way, realizing that they can no longer live at home without additional support can be a heart-wrenching but critically important decision. As the primary caregiver, there are limits to the support you can provide on your own and it’s important for both you and your loved one that you are able to recognize when additional help is needed.

Deciding to pursue other options of support and care can sometimes spark guilt or sadness in family members or caregivers. In truth, these options may seem difficult at first but may actually bring more peace of mind to your family.

What are your options when the current situation is no longer appropriate?

Part of the overwhelming feeling of realizing that your loved one can no longer live safely alone at home is not knowing your options. There are a wide range of choices, depending on the level of care needed. MJHS knows that understanding the differences can help you feel more confident about your decision. Some available options, when additional support is needed, include:

  • Short-term home health care: Home care can be extremely valuable when your loved one has been discharged from the hospital and needs help with medication management, physical therapy, wound care, or needs help with a specific condition such as COPD or a kidney transplant.
  • Managed long-term care: Designed for people who qualify for Medicaid and suffer from conditions that require ongoing care, managed long-term care plans (MLTCPs) provide, arrange and coordinate the health and long-term care services your loved one might need to remain safely at home. Given recent global events many families are seeking the reduced risk of exposure to COVID-19, and ability to visit without restrictions, that support from a care management team – and home health aide providing assistance with activities such as bathing, dressing and meal preparation in your loved one’s home – can make possible.
  • Residential care: Residential care consists of several types of care, including:
    • Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) offer a wide range of services for individuals who would like to stay in the same place through all the phases of the aging process. A CCRC typically has accommodations for independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care.  An individual moves between these levels of supervision as the need arises.
    • Assisted living is an option for those that require minimal assistance with Activities of Daily Living. An assisted living facility helps your loved one to live independently in a safe environment.
    • When an assisted living facility is not enough care for your loved one, another option is a skilled nursing home that provides 24-hour medical care, assistance with activities of daily living, meals, as well as therapeutic and recreational activities. Skilled nursing homes are often a safe and appropriate setting for people with dementia
  • Comfort care: When your loved one is seriously or terminally ill, palliative or hospice care can be a valuable alternative for dealing with pain and stress. The objective of both palliative and hospice care is to improve the quality of life for a patient by offering comfort, dignity and respect along with providing much-needed support for their loved ones. Both of these options are provided with expert medical care, pain management as well as emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes.

Comfort care can be provided in the home or wherever your loved one lives, including an assisted living community, freestanding hospice, hospital, nursing home or other long-term care facility. However, today more than ever, many families are choosing hospice care at home for their loved one so that family and friends can visit without limitation. Hospice focuses specifically on caring, not curing, and provides support to the patient’s family as well. Many find that the emotional support, symptom and pain management expertise hospice offers can make huge differences in quality of life.

How to identify which option is best for your loved one

1. Assess current needs.

    • Can your loved one be safe at home alone?
    • Could they be safe at home with the appropriate level of care?
    • Is their existing support system enough?
    • What are the medical needs of your loved one? Has a physician weighed in on these needs?
    • Do they require assistance with activities of daily living?
    • Are financial resources limiting your options?

2. Have a conversation.

    • Discuss the situation with other family members and do your best to communicate your feelings and situation. Family dynamics can be complex and not everyone may agree, but brainstorming and collaboration can often lead to a better plan of care. Ultimately, your family will need to designate a primary decision maker.
    • If possible, make your loved one part of the process of selecting the best living situation.

3. Conduct tours and ask questions.

    • Once you are aware of your loved one’s needs explore your options. Use the list you made in step two to make sure each option meets your specific criteria.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what may suit your loved one’s needs now as well as in the future. In the interview stage, it’s important to understand all of the benefits offered by each organization. Be sure to ask about how they will adapt to changes in medical needs or transitions in care.

How will you know when you have found the right option?

Ultimately, only you will you know what option is best for your loved one.  Trust your instincts and choose the option that seems best.

As an integrated health system, MJHS provides a wide range of services, as well as a continuum of care, across settings. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us today.