You have two aging parents, and one cares for the other. If the caregiver goes down, they're both down. What's the answer?
A retirement community could offer a win-win situation.
The well spouse ditches domestic duties like shopping, cooking, cleaning and focuses on caregiving, hobbies and socializing with others. If caregiving gets to be too much, extra help such as assisted living or skilled nursing is available. Staff can help monitor how things are going.
Today I saw these truths with my own eyes. Emergency technicians entered Evergreen Retirement Community, where I work. June, a resident, had suffered a stroke. It happened in the activity room during a musical performance.
June cares for her husband John. Due to cognitive issues, he can't live alone.
Six months ago, they moved in. June immediately began immersing herself in volunteering and activities. She is chair of the welcoming committee. "I love people," she said. "I like getting to know everyone." She also says she doesn't mind giving up things like cooking meals and washing dishes.
Retirement community living offers John benefits, as well. He loves to drink coffee in the lobby and chat with residents and staff.
Today, staff supported John as he waited for his daughter to take him to the hospital to visit his wife. They offered hugs and listening ears.
What will happen? No one knows. We're praying that June will soon return home. In the meantime, we will work with their family to make sure John is ok. If June needs rehab in a nursing home for a while, John might stay temporarily in our assisted living. Or a daughter might care for him in the retirement apartment. If John needs transportation to visit his wife in the nursing home, we can provide it.
And of course, the coffee is always on. On a more serious note, I can't help but think June might not have made it to the hospital as early if she had been living with John in a single family home. Retirement communities aren't for every caregiving couple. But they're certainly worth considering.