As a physical therapist working in hospitals, family members of older adult patients often pull me aside to ask "do you think mom is going to be able to go back to living in her home?" I never know quite what to say. I do my best to give my honest opinion, but it usually comes out as a vague statement that barely answers the question. Something like, "we'll do our best to get her home, but eventually you may want to start looking into other options."
I realize that such a vague answer is really not helpful. Given the opportunity, most older adults would choose to remain in their homes for as long as possible. They often do not realize the severity of their health and mobility problems. They truly believe that they're just fine at home. "I'm fine. I've been living there for 43 years" they'll say. Their children are then faced with the difficult task of helping their parent determine if staying in their home is really the best option.
What I've finally realized is that, as a medical professional working with a largely geriatric population, I have a responsibility to provide a better answer than "we'll try, butâ¦." Or "let's just wait and see ifâ¦." The people asking the question do not want to be brushed off or given false hope. What they want is a way to make the decision for themselves without the guilt and constant fear that they're making the wrong decision.
For all of you out there that fit this description, this article is for you. By the time you're done reading, I hope that you will have a clear list of issues that indicate when older adults need more help than they are currently getting.
Then, over the next few weeks, I'll give you details about what the different options are if your aging loved one is not safe at home. We'll talk about the typical price range of each option. Finally, I'll give you tips on how to make the transition easier if you and your family decide that moving is the best choice.
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