By Ellen S. Morris, Esq., Partner, Elder Law Associates PA
There are many ways to care for your loved ones when they can no longer care for themselves due to mental deterioration or physical disability. You can hire caregivers for them in their home, place them in a care facility such as an assisted living facility or a skilled nursing home, or move them into your home for you to care for them or to have caregivers in your home. If they have assets, you can use their funds for the care, you can seek our advice to qualify them for Medicaid or VA Benefits, or you can pay for their care yourself.
Out of those options, bringing the loved one into your home is usually the last choice. The reasons are many: stress on the household, stress on you as the primary caregiver or managing the caregivers, discomfort with having caregivers/strangers in your home, odors that often accompany the care of a disabled individual, not enough room or privacy for you, the loved one and the caregivers, difficulty in keeping the house clean, loss of your safe haven home escape, and many more that you can well imagine. It takes a very special person or a collaborative effort of many special people to make the last option work.
The “G” family is an example of one such group of very special people. “Mother” was diagnosed with dementia at a relatively young age. Her sons and daughters-in-law felt an obligation and a desire to care for Mother, out of respect. The three sons and their wives collaborated to care for Mother in their homes for over 12 years. They made room in their homes for her and her round-the-clock caregivers with all that entails; they took four-month turns in having Mother and caregivers in their home; they arranged for socialization and activities, each family choosing activities they preferred. One family brought in musicians and sang with Mother. One family brought in a yoga instructor. The other family brought in an artist. The grandchildren spent time with Mother. Members of the family visited Mother in whosever’s home she was in at the time. It was a sacrifice and a reward at the same time and was the utmost act of respect and honor which was done in a way not to make Mother feel like a burden.
We can’t all do for our loved ones what the “G” family did for Mother. But we can remember to treat our aging loved ones with respect and honor and not make them feel like a burden. After all, there but for the grace of god, go we.