Friday, September 14, 2012

Eldercare Dilemma: I don't want Mom to Have to Move TWICE!

"I definitely want to move Mom only once."  After all, moving is hard on elderly parents, and it's not easy on children, either. So how can you make sure you won't be carting Mom, her possessions and furniture to a new community months or years from now?

What about dementia? A marketing representative told my client, "Our community can take care of your mom for the rest of her life!"  A problem:  his mom had early dementia.  She was engaging and cogent for fifteen minutes or so, until she began her pattern of repeating questions and phrases. Her short-term memory was zip. For now, her needs were simple: friendly staff directing her to meals and activities, and helping her bathe and take her medications. Later, though, problems could arise. Depending on the progression of her disease, she might begin to wander or yell at residents or staff. Because the community had no memory support area, with specially trained staff, she could be asked to leave. The implied promise of "taking care of Mom forever" wouldn't hold water.

What about other progressive diseases?  George lived for five-plus years at the assisted living where I worked.  He made friends, was the star of the art group, and every Friday toasted with four men in an informal "Happy Hour."  Eventually, though, as he approached 100, he became weaker.  It took two people to get him out of bed. We could no longer meet his needs. George had to pull up stakes and move to a heavier care assisted living. Another potential move-out criterion is diabetic care. If your parent needs sliding-scale insulin, he or may need to move to higher care.

What can you do? No one has a crystal ball, but it's good to be prepared for the possibility of a second move. The community you're choosing now may be perfect today. When your parent's needs increase, an adult family home, a heavier care assisted living community or one with memory support might work better.  If funds aren't an issue, you have more options from the beginning: move Mom to a more expensive community with progressive care and specialized wings. When her needs grow, you simply move her down the hall.  Another option, especially if your parent has extensive needs, is to bring in extra home care staffing to assist the assisted living staff in caring for your parent.

Is this easy?  No. The Boy Scout motto makes sense here:  Be prepared.

Do you have any other ideas concerning a "second move"?  Or stories of your own experience with this?

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