The Dickensian concept of “being put in a home” is based on largely outdated ideas of poorhouses and debtors’ prisons. While perhaps a bit drastic, it may not be that far off for Depression-era kids who saw the treatment of seniors in an era before Medicare and Medicaid helped to fund better care. While there are still some nursing homes that violate government regulations, most are decent, well managed and comfortable places to care for seniors who need a lot more attention for a multitude of medical needs than most of us can safely provide at home. Licensed board and care homes may be another option for long-term care, usually at a lower cost than nursing homes. They don’t offer skilled nursing, but they do have a more intimate environment with a less institutional atmosphere.
Families who must address this question should look at how things might be in the future, both short and long term. Can family members manage a parent’s care needs—with more medical equipment and increasingly frequent trips to the doctor, therapy and the pharmacy for meds? An adult child has to assume increasing obligations to transport and accompany the parent to his or her appointments, advocate and care for the parent, and monitor the medications, diet and follow-through. This burden can become unbearable for some, and living with a parent and satisfying all of his or her care needs can be too great a task.
For some families with kids in the house and both parents working, it can be nice to have a grandparent there to babysit—if he or she is able. Also, if the older parent can help with the family chores, it’s great. As the grandparent ages, children can learn responsibility in helping to care for a dependent person, which can help them mature. Plus, the one household can make the best use of the aging parent’s assets. But this situation doesn’t always work out, and it isn’t for everyone. There can be tension from having an in-law in the house, and adoring grandchildren may grow into reluctant teens.
It’s good to have a backup plan in place now for the possibility that the caregiving responsibilities in the future will be too great and become too much for one primary caregiver. Care facilities have their place and may be the best option in some situations.
Reference: Forbes (July 7, 2016) “Aging Parents and The Rise of the Multi-Generation Household”