As our population ages and more of our national focus is on senior care, we can find ourselves in a muddle over confusing choices. How do we decide what care our elderly mother or father needs and when do we start looking for it?
Choosing Senior Care: If Mom is still living in her original home, with no one to look in on her regularly, she may be at a turning point. Many people choose to start getting help from in-home care agencies since Mom can stay in her home longer with this help. Others feel it's time for Mom to move to assisted living. There are several things for you and your mom to look at while you consider the options.
Are there still people in her neighborhood she knows and does she get out and about to visit friends? If she is stuck at home and there's no one nearby, she may become socially isolated in her home. In-home help can alleviate some of this loneliness and isolation, but Mom may be better off in an independent living community or even assisted living, depending on her needs.
Companion care may even be enough. This is someone who is paid to keep an elder company. Be careful who you hire, however, since seniors can be vulnerable adults. A good place to find senior companions, and it's often free, is to call your local Retired Senior Volunteer Program, known as RSVP. They offer senior companions, who are healthy seniors who make great friends for more frail seniors. Whether hired or volunteers, people who are only senior companions aren't going to be cooking, cleaning and giving baths. They are there to provide company.
Independent communities are aimed at fairly healthy seniors, but they generally offer more socialization than an elder gets if he or she lives alone in a home where the neighborhood has drastically changed, as so often happens. In a local senior center, Mom would probably find it easy to socialize during scheduled activities or shared meals.
However, if mom is showing signs of needing assistance with her meals and transportation, I'd recommend looking around...