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​Researching care options, nursing homes and retirement residences for parents

Finding a proper retirement home or nursing home for an elderly family member often means supplementing what you can do with what your community can offer. There is no other way to learn about retirement home options than to head out on the information highway and do your own research. The time spent gaining a good understanding of seniors' care, nursing home and retirement home choices means steering a better course through various stages.

For example: initially, you might consider simple supports. A few hours a week of personal care or a hot, nutritious meal twice a week through the Meals on Wheels program may be all that are required.

Be aware of other kinds of senior care available
If your senior parent requires greater assistance - maybe for bathing or personal care - you need to be aware of special services that may be available to you. For example, in the province of Ontario, the local Community Care Access Centre can help arrange for a personal support worker. Should more extensive care be required on an ongoing basis, a CCAC case manager may also arrange for the services of a nurse or other licensed caregiver to administer medication, change dressings or provide physiotherapy. There is also help for seniors who are coping with loneliness, depression, anxiety and such.

No matter where you live, you will learn that caregivers need to pay attention to their own wellbeing. Respite care programs, such as adult day programs, benefit and provide quality time for both the loved one and the caregiver.

Be mindful of special circumstances
Your research may also identify potential potholes or special circumstances. For instance, seniors may need to look to private or company insurance packages to supplement services provided through our health-care system or they may qualify for health-care benefits under the Veterans Health Care Regulations.

Unfortunately, in this age of stress and busyness, children and their aging parents all too often find themselves in a crisis situation where multiple solutions are required and decisions must be made immediately. For many, it is like rocketing down a steep road, negotiating twists and turns on the fly - in the dark.

By making time now to plan for the future by identifying health-care sources and retirement options for your aging parents, you will have an essential and powerful advantage - a road map for your family, through the challenging terrain of retirement and nursing care.

Source: Catherine Dunphy, Comfort Life 2008 - 2009