Elder Care and Long-Term Decisions During a Global Pandemic (Image Via Pexels)
By June Duncan, www.riseupforcaregivers.org
The coronavirus has changed the way we do many things. And if you currently provide care for an aging or disabled family member, you have likely felt its impact in the worst of ways. Unfortunately, older people succumb to the virus at a rate exponentially greater than their children and grandchildren. This has led many of us to scramble to figure out what, exactly, is best for them, particularly when we can’t always be there to see for ourselves how their lives have changed.
While you may be struggling with how to make decisions without potentially exposing them to the virus, you may need to keep in mind long-term care options as well.
Is Assisted Living Right for Right Now?
If your loved one’s health is in rapid decline, assisted living might be a prudent move. If this happens and money is tight, it might be necessary to sell their home. Although the real estate market remains uncertain, you can list and safely provide options like video chat, 3-D walk-throughs, and virtual open houses during the pandemic. Call your realtor of choice to inquire about other ways to keep them safe at home while preparing to go to market.
Your agent can also help you set an asking price, which can influence how quickly the home sells. Keep in mind that assisted living prices vary wildly depending on where they are located and what amenities are needed. Where You Live Matters estimates that the cost is usually anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 per month. Once you get an idea of the sale proceeds after paying off the mortgage, you’ll have a clear idea of your budget and how long the money will last.
When Staying at Home Is Best
One concern about assisted living now is how quickly COVID-19 spreads in these types of confined spaces. If assisted living is not an option, you will need to make a decision on how their day-to-day needs will be met until it’s safe to make a move.
A homecare nurse or medical aid is an option, and they will be well-versed in COVID-19 safety protocols. The AARP notes that these include everything from self-monitoring for signs of the disease to making the move to telemedicine for some visits. Choosing a caregiver might not be easy, but you can ask for referrals and reviews as well as a list of credentials from the agency you choose to go with.
Influencing Their Dietary Habits
Even if you can’t be there to rummage through the refrigerator, you can help your loved one make healthier eating choices. Not surprisingly, eating the right diet may be able to reverse or eliminate some sicknesses, and, through the right eating plan, your loved one may see improvement in their health. Plan to sign your loved one up for a no-contact grocery delivery service. Many major food retailers as well as some third-party providers now offer this as an option. Make sure to order foods they can prepare easily but that also provide balanced nutrition. Focus on fruits, vegetables, and fiber.
Documents Needed to Make Decisions
Another aspect of keeping an open dialog is to ensure they have legal documents in place that will allow you to make choices based on what you perceive their needs to be. AgingCare notes that these might include a HIPAA authorization form, power of attorney, and advanced health care directive.
There are many challenges that come with caring for a loved one during a crisis, and making choices for the short and long term on how to handle their care while keeping the current situation in mind is a huge one. You may have to make some difficult decisions in coming weeks and months, and even after the pandemic is officially declared over, your senior loved ones are vulnerable. The advice above can help you best evaluate their needs so that you can make these choices.