Monday, August 9, 2010

Deciding on Care for Elderly Parents in Declining Health in Allentown, PA

Deciding on Care for Elderly Parents in Declining Health


TWO years ago my father, then 83, became very ill. Until then, he had been living alone in a pleasant one-bedroom apartment on the Hudson River, an hour’s drive from my home in Brooklyn.

After a couple of months in the hospital it became clear that my dad, Harvey Alderman, could not return to solo living. He was fragile and forgetful, and there was no way he could keep track of the 14 or so pills he had to take each day.

But where would he go — and how would we pay for it? Could he stay in his apartment if he had regular visits from an aide? Or should he go to an assisted-living facility where there would be more services available for him?

So began my family’s crash course in caring for an aging parent in declining health.

If you’re in this predicament, you know already there is no simple answer. Older people each have unique medical and emotional needs. And finances often dictate how far you can go in creating the ideal situation for them.

That is what Linda Chase, a lawyer in Reston, Va., realized after running the numbers on what it would cost for home care for her mother, who has dementia and needs round-the-clock attention.

“We couldn’t afford private home-health care, so the only option for us was assisted living in a facility with dementia care,” Ms. Chase said.

Below, I offer guidelines and considerations that can help you make an informed — if not always easy — decision about what type of housing will support your parent’s needs, without bankrupting the family in the process.

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