FAQ: Caring for Elderly Parents

Quality Living Solutions participates in the "Health Matters" forum. The following are questions we have received regarding our clients' concerns about caring for elderly parents and developing an elderly care plan and the answers we have provided.

Q:        My elderly mother and I live in separate states.  She recently had a medical emergency concerning her diabetes.  I need to get her some assistance.  How do I find someone to help her?  How do I know we can depend on them?

A:        Quality Living Solutions, LLC takes a personal approach to customize solutions for our clients.  After consultation with you and your mother to assess her needs, QLS will present quality services for consideration.  QLS will assist with the evaluation of resources and devise a care plan consistent with your selections.  QLS then coordinates services to achieve the care plan.  QLS monitors providers ensuring progress of the care plan toward established goals and your mother living happily.

Q:        I have long term care insurance.  Will it cover in-home care?

A:        Your insurance policy should be investigated for a determination of benefits.  Each policy is independent.  Generally to receive in-home care benefits through long term care insurance requires you need for assistance with a minimum of two or more activities of dialing living (ADL).  The required need for activities of daily living must be specified in a letter from our physician.  The following are a few examples of activities of daily living (ADL) that may trigger benefits; bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, eating, taking medications and transfer.  Your policy may specify other activities of daily living (ADL).  You should talk with your insurance agent and verify what your policy will cover and how much it will pay if you are considering caring for the elderly at home.

Q:       I am a 78 year old widower.  I’ve been thinking about moving to a retirement community, especially after I recently had a fall.  When does someone know when it is time for relocating and what kind of facility is best?

A:        At QLS we encourage you to act now to have flexible choices later and evaluate lifestyle options.  A care coordination service, such as QLS, will help you research various living arrangements for the care plan you require now and in the future.  Investigation will include at a minimum the services, staffing numbers, atmosphere and activities offered.  Being mindful of costs and undertaking reasonable steps to minimize expenses in relationship to the care required is QLS’s goal.  The best facility is one that allows healthy, fulfilling living while addressing your care needs.

Q:        My father is not getting the socialization he needs.  Any suggestions?

A:        Adult day care is a planned program of activities designed to promote well-being through social and health related services.  The intent of an adult day center is to:

  • Provide an opportunity to get out of the house and receive mental and social stimulation
  • Give caregivers a much-needed break

Consider using adult day care when a senior:

  • Can no longer structure daily activities
  • Desires companionship
  • Can’t be safely left alone at home
  • Lives with someone who works outside the home or who is frequently away

Q:        My elderly mother lives with us.  I am concerned she is not taking her medication when she needs to when we are not at home to remind her.  Is there something we could get to help remind her?

A:        Nearly 30% of all hospital admissions for people over the age of 65 are directly attributable to medication non-adherence.  There are products on the market that will not only remind your mother to take her medication at the proper times of day but also make sure she is taking the correct medication and dosages when she needs to.

Q:        My father has been asked to participate in a clinical trial. What should we know?

A:        As a "subject" your father should understand his rights as a research subject. The most important is that he should be told who will be in charge of his care, the kinds of tests involved, and whether there are any costs to him as a volunteer and that he can withdraw from the study at any point and for any reason.

Q:        My aging mother does not get enough exercise.  How can I convince her it is important for her to stay active?

A:        Older people may become sick or disabled more often from not exercising.  Staying active and exercising regularly can:

  • Improve mood and relieve depression
  • Help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, including some types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
  • Improve health in the frail or those with diseases that accompany aging
  • Increase strength-carry groceries, climbing stairs
  • Improve balance-prevent falls
  • Restore flexibility-speed recovery from injury
  • Build endurance-walk farther, dance longer
  • Improve quality of life

It is important to consult your physician before starting any type of exercise routine as part of caring for elderly parents.

Q:        My mother has dementia and it seems that she has become more depressed recently.  I am concerned this might take her dementia to the next level, what can I do?

A:        Investigate your mother’s medications to see if depression is a side effect.  Acknowledging and supporting the unique characteristics of people with dementia is critical to ensuring their autonomy, identity and quality of life.  A stimulating activity program can be developed to keep your mother engaged so she does not become bored.  There are wonderful games that help keep the mind stimulated and if she has hobbies, encourage her to continue with them.

Q:        My mother has Alzheimer’s.  She keeps saying she wants to go home.  What can I do?

A:        Memory impairment and disorientation can cause people to forget where they are.  When they want to go “home” it really signals a desire for a sense of safety and familiarity.  Bring Mom “home” by reuniting her with her favorite memories of what home represents.  Try saying “Of course you want to go home, your house was the prettiest on the block.  Why don’t you tell me about those tulips you planted in your front yard.”

Q:        I am care giving for my mother.  How can I care for both of us?

A:        You must take care of yourself in order to give effective care to your mother.  Get sufficient sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise and stay physically fit, spend social time with family and friends, and pursue your own interests.  It is normal to feel angry, frustrated, or depressed from time to time.  We encourage caregivers to seek support from family, friends, professionals, or your religious advisor and join peer support groups.  Also use in-home and community-based services that are available in your area.  Do not abuse alcohol and drugs.  Although care giving can be difficult, it is also a rewarding undertaking.

Q:        My mother claims she’s sick yet refuses to follow any doctor’s treatment.  How can we get some help to deal with how we should respond?

A:        It is difficult to cope with a parent who seems sick:  needing help, yet refusing it.  As you learn what resources there are for her, you can present the options to your mother, preferably with any siblings there and see what she chooses to do.  If she refuses to act, you might need to let her experience the consequences of this choice:  frustration and isolation.  You need support, and you need to set some limits.  When you feel like “I just can’t do this anymore,” it’s time to reach out for support in caring for elderly parents.  Fortunately there is help.

Q:        My father almost had an accident falling asleep while driving.  What can we do before something terrible happens?

A:        Having “near misses” is a warning sign of unsafe driving.  It is time to intervene, not just for the driver’s safety, but also for the safety of others.  Visit with your father’s physician regarding medical conditions that may cause drowsiness.  Approach your father in a non-threatening manner.  Having the freedom of driving gives him a sense of independence.  Encourage him to run errands in the morning.  Various studies show a peak in crashes, believed to be related to sleep, between 2 PM and 6 PM.  Stress that if your father feels the slight bit tired, he pulls over in a safe place and take a nap.  Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving.  In some states, drowsy driving is considered a felony.

Q:        My mother is in an assisted living facility.  She keeps getting urinary tract infections.  What can we do?

A:       Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are common for assisted living and nursing home facility residents.  Individuals with an impaired immune system, who are diabetic or do not drink enough fluids may be more susceptible to UTIs.  Lack of fluids is quite common in elderly people as they choose to not drink very much in the afternoons and evenings so their sleep will not be interrupted to use the bathroom.  Your mother’s doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent recurrent UTIs.  Once you can determine the direct cause for the UTI, you and your mother’s doctor can effectively make changes to assist in the prevention of the recurring UTIs.

Q:        My aging father needs assistance. We believe it beneficial for him to age in place. What types of services can be provided in the home?

A:       The types of in-home support services that can be provided are as varied as they are numerous. Implementation of service delivery is based on the individual client's assessed needs. Non-medical home care includes services designed to help individuals with the tasks of everyday living. The services are of a non-medical nature and may include companionship, errand running, transportation, non-medical personal care, housekeeping, meal preparation, etc. Home health care may provide specialized medical care such as nursing, physical and occupational therapy.

Q:        My father has Alzheimer's disease-and as a result swallowing food and drinks is difficult. What can we do to make this task easier?

A:       Swallowing is an ability many of us don't give a second thought to. Yet this activity very often becomes difficult for individuals in the later stages of alzheimer's disease. A person may refuse or simply forget how to eat. Coughing, choking, chewing problems or significant weight loss can be red flags that something is amiss. The solution: Create a calm, supportive dining environment; Be aware of positioning; Modify food; Adapt drink ware; Be mindful of complications; See a healthcare professional; and Consider end-of-life issues.


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