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The Ohio Department of Aging

Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Family - November 2010

Long-term care comes home
Needing help does not mean losing independence

Melissa is worried about her mother. Dad died in 2008 and Mom has been putting on a good show of being okay, but Melissa just feels that something isn't right. Mom has become increasingly forgetful. She's missing appointments at the hair salon and the doctor's office. The last time Melissa visited, Mom had very few groceries in the house and a good deal of laundry to be washed. Melissa has discussed the possibility of moving Mom in with her and her family. Her husband, Greg, is fine with it, but she worries about hurting Mom's feelings if she asks. Will she feel like Melissa is trying to take away her independence?

These days, long-term care is coming home in some interesting new ways.The good news for Melissa is that, these days, long-term care is coming home in some interesting new ways that will help her Mom get the care she needs when and where she prefers. Melissa's mother can benefit from several types of assistance that will help her remain independent in her own home or, if she chooses to move in with Melissa's family, maintain the quality of life she wants and expects.

Mom can definitely benefit from home delivered meals that are available for free or at low cost from community providers. Hot, nutritious meals will be delivered daily, which can help Melissa rest easy that Mom is eating well. She also may benefit from homemaker services, which provide a worker to come to her home and do basic chores such as dusting, vacuuming, mopping and laundry.

For more involved assistance, such as help with bathing, dressing and medications, Mom can hire a home health aide to visit her regularly. If she can't afford this level of care and is eligible for Medicaid, she may be able to get free home care through the state's PASSPORT program.

Whether or not Mom moves in, Melissa will probably find herself tending to her mother's needs more and more. Mom may be more comfortable asking Melissa to do some of the things she needs than she would be having a stranger do it. Melissa is willing, but is worried about how it will affect her already busy lifestyle. Melissa may benefit from taking advantage of her local caregiver support program. Caregiving experts will provide training, resources and support to help her ensure Mom gets the care she needs without spreading herself too thin.

The first thing Melissa should do is have an earnest discussion with her mother. She needs to share with her the things that she has noticed and explain how those are causing concern. She needs to stress that she's devoted to helping her mother remain as independent as possible and is willing to help her explore the help that is available.

Melissa may be surprised to learn that Mom shares many of her concerns. Most older adults would prefer to remain in their homes and fear losing that independence. So, they hide their difficulties from others. Bringing care home for Mom will not only give Melissa the peace of mind that her mom has the things she needs, but it also may bring them closer as they work together to explore the options.

If you are in a situation similar to Melissa's, your area agency on aging can help you explore the long-term care options that may be available, as well as help you and your loved one make informed decisions that will help ensure choice, independence and quality of life. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community.