As seniors grow older, symptoms of physical and mental disability may arise. These disabilities often deprive people of the cognitive skills needed to make sound decisions and the physical abilities to care for themselves on a daily basis. Elder law clients frequently turn to their families to provide the day-to-day assistance they no longer can provide for themselves.
Caring for the Elderly
While some older adults require nursing home care or move to an assisted living facility, the Administration on Aging notes that family members, including spouses, children, other relatives and friends provide informal care to many elderly Americans who remain in their homes. Because of geographic separation, the degree of impairment and other factors, informal caregivers face many challenges while providing care to their loved ones and maintaining their own well-being.
Whether an elder loved one comes to live with you or continues to live alone but needs close supervision, the challenge of balancing your various roles can be overwhelming. Many elders require near constant supervision and assistance, including trips to the doctor or grocery store, financial management and aiding with personal care. While you may want to be the sole caretaker for your loved one, the constant attention they need may result in physical exhaustion, mental stress, friction among family members who feel others are not contributing to your loved one’s care and workplace complications. You and your family members need to address these issues early on to ensure your loved one receives the proper care.
Family and Medical Leave Act
If you are employed full-time while trying to provide care for a loved one, you may want to consider taking a leave of absence until you can adjust to your new role. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with 50 or more employees to grant unpaid leaves of absence to employees who need to care for sick family members. This leave of absence may give you the time you need to provide temporary care, make necessary arrangements for more permanent care or allow you to become comfortable with the demands of being a caregiver.
Elderly Care Options
In some cases, it is best for the family and the loved one to seek professional help to make sure the loved one is receiving ample medical care and attention. While people generally think of nursing homes as the only option, there are other facilities that should be considered, depending on the degree of care needed. The types of facilities and the services that are available vary by state, but may include:
- Residential care facilities — for those capable of living independently, but need assistance with medication and other medical needs. Also known as independent care facilities and assisted living.
- Home care — such as a visiting or live-in nurse who provides care in the person’s own residence.
- Congregate living health facilities — small living facilities made to feel as close to home as possible with 24-hour care and assistance.
- Continuing care retirement communities — for those who can live independently and those who require round-the-clock care.
- Adult day health care — facility for those with multiple, chronic health conditions who visit the facility for a set number of hours each day.
Most people want to take care of their aging family members or feel an obligation to do so. The hardships of taking on this type of caregiving can be extensive, but there are support groups and other options to help make the transition easier.
For more information on your options for caring for a loved one, contact our Houston elder law expert Christina Lesher. She can review your family’s situation and help you find the best fit for your case.