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Decisions on living arrangements honor fathers and mothers

Respectful and timely discussions are key

Aging well in the light of God’s grace is made easier when family members take their loved one’s best interests to heart, even when that means making tough decisions about where that person will live.

"Everyone ages," said Mary Eileen Andreasen, director of adult faith formation at St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha, whose background includes a master’s degree in nursing with a specialty in geriatrics. "The key is the approach adult children take in helping their aging parents determine the safest living arrangements."

Honoring fathers and mothers means being there for parents during the difficult times, through the deaths of their friends and the infirmity of their aging bodies, as well as respectfully helping them make decisions that take into account their wishes and the reality of their health, Andreasen said.

When, where and how those conversations take place are up to each family. The responsibility of children to their parents is first and foremost the safety of mom and dad, she said.

Adult children should begin talking to their parents early and often about their parents’ wishes, said Diane Hendricks, a licensed clinical social worker with Nebraska Medicine at the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

They need to ask their parents:

Do they want to stay in their home?

At what point would they consider accepting outside help coming into the home to help with activities of daily living?

At what point would they consider moving, and what kind of facility would they want to move to: independent living, assisted living, a skilled nursing home?

What are their medical wishes, including end-of-life-care?

"The aging parent needs to be consulted, respectfully," Andreasan said. "After all, they are adults and have to be on board if there is a move in the future. If they are put somewhere and they are not ready to leave their home, they are going to be miserable."

And if the parents aren’t quite ready and don’t realize their personal safety might be an issue, families should help explain the situation, in consultation with a medical professional if necessary, Hendricks said.

"Ninety percent of people will leave this world in a gradual steady decline from whatever chronic illness they live with," she said. "That means that many of us will likely face decisions on how long we can safely stay in our home, with or without assistance, and when we need to move into a facility that provides more care."

There also are cognitive and problem solving skills, such as remembering to take medications at certain times every day, or paying bills on time – that become concerns for families of aging parents, Hendricks said.

Adult children also should consider whether their parents can prepare nutritious meals or if they are eating at all; are they continuing to drive and is it safe for them to do so; and finally, are they simply getting enough socialization?

"Finances, cooking, housekeeping – families can bring in outside services to help their parents, but at some point it all comes back to how safely they can still live at home," Hendricks said.

Senior Living Options

There are a number of Catholic-based senior living options in the archdiocese, from independent living to assisted living. They include:

New Cassel Retirement Center, 900 N. 90th St., Omaha, 402-393-2277. Founded by the School Sisters of St. Francis, the facility has 180 residents, and offers options for assisted living, as well as adult day care for dementia patients.

Seven Oaks at Notre Dame, 3439 State St., Omaha, 402-451-4477. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame, this facility has 116 residents and offers independent living.

St. John Vianney Residence, 7323 Shirley St., Omaha, 402-392-1542. Run by the Archdiocese of Omaha, this facility has 50 residents and offers independent living, primarily for retired priests, but also lay residents.

St. Joseph’s Retirement Community, 320 E. Decatur St., West Point, 402-372-3477. Founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, this facility has 65 residents and offers assisted living with a memory care area for mild to moderate confusion, dementia and memory impairment.

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