What is “Assisted living”
Assisted living – Let’s take a look at some of the typical scenarios facing our elderly folks.
Due to social care budget cuts many older people living alone are becoming more and more vulnerable, when struggling to cope with living independently in their own home.
Assisted living. Even for those who remain relatively fit, and able, many face isolation and loneliness which has a negative impact on their well- being. Not seeing other people for days on end can bring about chronic depression. For those who are lucky enough to have relatives living close- by it’s quite easy for them to pop in. However sadly many simply do not have either the time to spare, or in some cases the inclination or both.
Due to family demands on their time, and often being strapped for cash, some siblings find themselves unable to devote the time and energy to care for mum and or dad
In other situations siblings live 100’s of miles away or even abroad, which means any visits are a rarity. Bearing in mind our elderly parents and not getting any younger even those who are fit one- day can quickly deteriorate the next, often and quite sudden due to a fall.
Of course where both parents are still alive and living together one tends to support the other. Invariably though one parents is fitter than the other which often can drag down the more active onem due to the stress of taking care of their less fit spouse/partner.
What to do?
Once the warning sign become apparent action of some sort should be taken. Either by the siblings other relatives, or close friends.
1) Take care of mum and dad yourself (If you can afford the time)
2) employ drop in carers.
3) Introduce a live in carer (best solution)
4) Put them into a care home.
5) Close your eyes and hope for the best!
We say get “someone in” to look after them sooner rather than later! Of course you will encounter a lot of resistance from mum and dad about the idea of bringing a stranger into their home. What do you do here? Be forceful and tell them either you go along with it or…. we cannot guarantee (despite our best efforts) to keep you out on an elderly care institution.
Having read all of the above it’s plain as daylight there is only one really effective solution; a younger person 24/7 to track and keep an eye on them-especially guarding them from falls.
But for many elderly people this option is not taken up. Reason; on average it’s too expensive-£850.00 per week is not unusual! What is surprising to me is that “anyone” can afford to takes it up! This equates to £3400.00 per month-over £40,000 per year! Over 5 years -£200,000 for a person to keep an eye on mum and or dad. Perhaps we should all apply for such a job! Ah, but that’s what the agency are paid- and not what the carer receives!
Due to high cost playing a big part many siblings opt for a bit of help here and there. Someone to pop in and make sure they are alive and no disasters. A more focussed alternative is a helper for a few hours a day. This is better than nothing, but as soon as the carer leaves in both cases they could fall over. One option proving very popular these days especially in Germany and Switzerland is a more mature au pair. It has worked well for centuries in looking after our beloved children.
What are the warning signs?
1) Obvious signs of frailty and unsteadiness on their feet. In particular a shuffling gait. This is more often than not a sign of Parkinson’s disease. (see a doctor)
2) An incident of an actual fall/tumble. Big problems potentially.
Numbers 1 and 2 are the most serious as a fall in an older person more often than not result in a bone fracture. In many cases the fall is not directly onto a carpet as in the case of my own father he hit his head on a radiator-result: broken ribs, combined with a heart attack. More often than not older people never recover from this combination and due to being weakened suffer further falls, more heart attacks-the end result-a care home!
3) Disorientation and inability to absorb what you are saying. Not necessarily dementia but something to monitor.
4) Leaving stoves and cooker rings on as well as back doors open at night. Maybe simply due to getting old and not so aware, or early dementia.
5) Numerous other minor issue which clearly show the individual is struggling.
Assisted living-critical considerations
Mum and or Dad must at all costs be prevented from sustaining that first fall. THIS IS THE KEY!
But until it happens it’s easy to assume it never will. After all our parents are super human and invincible…OR are they! We all take the view with our own parents that in their case it’s not old age it’s just a set-back: something we can deal with-like a touch of bad influenza.