Choices facing sandwich generation parents.
Approximately 16 million families now find themselves sandwiched between caring for their children and their parents. This was a role traditionally played by women who stayed at home, but now a majority of these women are in the workforce, making the care giving even more stressful.
So how can families plan for and choose care options to help their aging or disabled loved ones today? The options for senior (or elder) care run the gamut and can include, but are not limited to, these popular categories.
Senior Care Definitions
- Telephone reassurance is provided by companies who offer regular, pre-scheduled calls to seniors who live alone as a routine safety check and to reduce loneliness.
- Companions provide in-home care and companionship for seniors. While companions do not provide medical care, they may perform household chores such as cooking and cleaning, and/or transportation and errands.
- Caregivers provide in-home care for seniors who are not capable of independent living but who want to remain in their own homes. A caregiver is generally not a skilled medical professional, but may have specialized certifications or training.
- Respite care providers give short-term care in the temporary absence of the primary or family caregiver.
- Visiting nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who provide in-home care, including medical care, rehabilitation, and hospice services. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is the best-known association for this type of caregivers.
- Assisted living facilities provide care for seniors who either need or want to prepare for needing some level of assistance, but do not require the intensive care of a nursing home. Seniors in these facilities receive the help they need while maintaining as much independence as possible.
- Nursing homes provide care for seniors who require constant assistance and medical care. This term covers a wide range of options defined as providing 24/7, out-of-home care and monitoring by skilled medical professionals.
- Hospice workers provide care and comfort for seniors who are terminally ill. This care can be provided in the senior's home or in a hospice facility. These caregivers -- whether nurses, social workers or trained aides -- not only provide palliative care for the patient, but also lend practical and emotional support to family members.
The type of care you choose for your parent will depend on several factors: personal level of involvement, distance, finances, and more. However, no matter what option you choose, be sure to involve your relatives (or their proxies) in the decision-making process, and consult their physicians on a regular basis.