Tips on choosing the best assisted living options for aging parents

Caring for an aging parent or other loved one is never easy.

In fact, between the bathing, meal preparation, grocery shopping and other errands, the task can sometimes feel like a full-time job – on top of the full-time gig you already have.

“And it can at times be a job that many of us, for a lot of reasons, are not able to do,” said Chi Chi Enigwe, founder of Able Mind & Bodied Home Care, a home-care agency that helps the disabled, the elderly and those with development issues keep a sense of independence and quality of life at home. “It can be very strenuous on families if they don’t have the proper skills, resources or even an agency to help them along on this path.”

While private nursing and assisted living facilities are a popular option, it may not be the best option for many families, said Enigwe.

For one there is the cost, which according to the Modern Healthcare Magazine, continues to grow more expensive every year.

Then there is the guilt some family members might have about putting mom or dad into a nursing home. And vice-versa, “We also see a lot of clients who don’t want to go live with their children. They want to stay in their own homes,” said Enigwe.

Then there is the reality that most aging adults don’t want to go to a home. In fact, a recent survey by the AARP found 87 percent of adults over 65 years old prefer to age-in-place.

“Even if it’s not your intention, moving them to a facility outside of their home can feel like they are being ripped away from a place where they might have been married and raised their families in. And that can have a drastic and adverse effect on their overall quality of life. So unless directed by a medical professional, social worker or counselor that your loved one needs 24-hour around the clock care, it is recommended that families try home care first,” she said.

Still, the best overall option, Enigwe said finding an agency that works best for you and your loved ones will require a little research and pre-planning.

“It’s important that you know the needs of your loved one. So if you have a mother who has issues getting to the bathroom before an accident has occurred; if she is not mobile enough and she needs assistance bathing, knowing what her needs are first can help you derived the type of questions you need from the home care agency,” she said.

Enigwe suggests a “meet-and-greet” between the potential caretaker and family member, just to see how they relate to one another. She also advises family members to ask a potential’s agencies about credentials. In particular, if the caregiver assigned to your loved one is trained, licensed, insured and bonded.

“This is not only for the protection of your loved one and your loved ones’ possessions, but not every agency is built the same. For instance, there are home health care agencies, which can help administer medication. And there are home care agencies that, at most, can only remind your loved one that it is time to take their medicine.

That is why it’s important that you ask them questions,” she said.

While most insurance plans cover aging-in-place care, Enigwe said not everyone will have – or would want to exercise – that option. As such, her agency is offering free online training courses for family members, or anyone assuming the caretaker role of a homebound senior. The courses are Free and are available at www.ambhomecare.com.