When it comes to living generations ins the U.S., many can agree that there are seven (Greatest, Silent, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, and Alpha). However, there’s also an eighth-generation that doesn’t necessarily fit with a specific age group, but rather a time in one’s life. This eighth-generation is known as the “sandwich generation”, meaning that young to middle-aged adults are caregivers for their own children as well as their aging parents.
This is a phenomenon that many generations may experience (starting with the Baby Boomers), since more than 10% of Americans care for both their children and their parents. But is this the only living arrangement suitable for your aging parents?
#1: Assisted Living
Assisted living refers to housing for senior citizens that provides a wide range and level of care options. There are several types of assisted living, but the two most common are retirement homes and nursing homes.
These are apartment-like or home-like communities for senior citizens. Here, your aging parent will have access to various amenities for entertainment, recreation, and socialization, as well as access to medical care and assistance with daily activities if needed.
A retirement home is the perfect solution if your aging parent can’t remain in their own home and if moving in with you isn’t the best option. Here, they’ll be able to live in a home-like setting and interact with their peers.
A nursing home is more of a clinical setting, rather than a home-like setting. Here, your aging parent will receive advanced medical treatment, having access to doctors and nurses all throughout the day. This is the best solution if one or both of your parents has a serious medical condition, such as dementia.
The main problem with nursing homes in the U.S. is that many of them are poor quality. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that you find the best quality nursing home for your aging parent(s). Otherwise, there’s a higher risk that they’ll be victims of nursing home neglect and/or abuse.
#2: Independent Living
Also known as aging in place, independent living is when senior citizens remain in their own homes, as opposed to moving into an assisted living facility. Keep in mind that successful independent living implies that the senior is both safe and comfortable.
Your aging parent would make a good candidate for independent living if they don’t have a serious medical condition that requires round-the-clock service, their home can be made safer for them to live in, and they have a good support system for aging in place. This support system can be neighbors, friends, and/or family members checking in on them from time to time, and maybe even support from the community in the form of social groups.
As far as a safe living environment goes, understand that there may have to be some changes made to their home to ensure their safety since no one else is around all day. The main things to focus on is removing any hazards that could cause them to slip, trip, or fall, and adding more accessible features if they use a walker or wheelchair.
#3: Living with You
Having one or both of your parents move in with you can be both rewarding and challenging— depending on the level of care they may need. Those a part of the sandwich generation are grateful to have their parents around, but can also suffer from burnout. Fortunately, there are resources available to help.
In-Home Caregiving and Respite Care
There’s no doubt that you’re going to need a break when caring for aging parents, and this is where in-home caregiving and respite care can help. In-home caregiving gives you a short break to allow you to run errands, whereas respite care services (provided inside or outside of the home) give you a longer break.
Adult Day Programs
These types of programs allow your aging parent to take a break from being inside of the house all day, allowing them to socialize and engage in art, celebrations, exercise, and music activities with other seniors. Many of these programs provide transportation to and from the center, as well as assistance and medical care for your aging parent.
One last factor that will help you decide where your aging parents will live will be money. Nursing homes tend to be the most expensive option, but it’s still the best option for those who need extensive medical care. Retirement homes can be pretty expensive too, depending on everything they have to offer. As far as aging in place or moving in with you goes, you’ll only need to pay for home renovations and any elder assistance programs.