Neeraja Metri, a scientist with the defence establishment, had a busy work schedule and two adolescent children. Her parents lived far away from the home town where Neeraja grew up. Her father had been to farming and her mother was home bound. But now her parents seemed unable to manage their house or their lives independently.
Neeraja’s brother in Delhi ordered groceries for his parents online and had them delivered. They also arranged for a local person to help with the upkeep of the house. But it was not enough. Neeraja’s mother was becoming more disoriented and anxious, calling Her five times a day for small reassurances or to repeat something they had discussed half an hour earlier. Her father’s arthritis was more and more painful and he likely needed a hip replacement, which Neeraja knew would be disruptive and catastrophic. She was coming home to care for them once fortnight and neglecting her work and her children’s lives.
Even though it broke her heart to think of moving her parents from their home, Neeraja realised eventually it had to happen. The rural village where they lived had few options for the kind of medical care and support they needed. Finances were also a concern, as the brother and sister have to share and money would have to last to care for both parents or for the surviving spouse when one of her parents died. Neeraja’s co-worker suggested to speak to Elder Care Experts. Here it is what ensued.
Problem Areas Identified
- Ageing parents with chronic illness with minimal support
- Adult Children live far away.
- Rural setting with limited medical care
- Financial constraints highlighted
How We Helped
Neeraja’s is not a unique situation. When the chronicity catching up with elderly parents, and before it develops to a worsening situation children must consider various care and housing options. Neeraja is already getting exhausted by her frequent trips to her home town and it is affecting her work and family life. She and her brother, both not willing to take them into their respective houses. This option being ruled out, the next option is keeping some reliable care giver with parents and try monitoring. This option they tried and failed and that’s why this dilemma. Our councillor was able to assess Neeraja’s parents’ frailty and get a sense of their finances. We then suggested few appropriate senior housing options, still close by to Neeraja’s city. Both the children well off, the aged parents who brought them are obligated to receive sufficient care in the fag end. Constraints of money is an excuse in most cases and here too. We were able to convince Neeraja and her brother that money constraint is just a ‘mind block’, and it is the ‘pay back’ time to aged parents. Luckily, Neraja’s brother took the same stand and left the decisions to her. There was no conflict of interest between the siblings and this made the life easier for everyone.
Next hurdle is to convince the parents for accepting the much maligned concept of ‘old age home stay’, which is a stigma even now prevailing in the society. Neeraja and our social gerontology practitioner also strategised how to show the assisted living facilities to the parents considering their frailty and the emotionality of the decision for everyone. To our surprise, her parents agreed to a one-month respite stay at a facility that was few kilo meters from where she worked. Their transition to institutional care and adjustment to the new way of life has been relatively smooth and the phone calls have ceased. Neeraja is able to check in on her parents very often as and when she wishes and has peace of mind. In between, Neeraja took Her parents to few family functions and social gatherings. Finally, her parents took the decision to move permanently to this assisted living facility as they started liking it slowly.