Friday, July 31, 2015

Eldercare 101: When It's Time for a Mid-Course Correction

If you care for an aging parent, you hope and pray things will turn out right.

But sometimes, a curve ball comes your way and smacks you in the nose.  Not literally, but it may feel that way.  Some common scenarios:  the assisted living you chose for your parent gives you a 30-day notice.  Or you or your parent decides the community or the home care isn't living up to its promises.  Or the rates go up so fast that you wish the stock market could keep up that same pace.  

Here are some ideas that might help you respond to the situation and find a solution. 

1.   If you receive a 30-day notice:  "We can no longer meet your parent's care needs" is what an administrator or nurse may say.  So you can ask, "What exactly are the issues that forced you to make this decision?"  Probe some more.  Is it socially inappropriate behavior?  The need for more hands-on care than the facility can meet? And if so, what specifically can't the community do to keep your parent safe and well-cared for?  If funds aren't limited, ask  "Can we hire extra help to see if things work?"  Obviously, extra help will cost you big; think hard before moving ahead.

2.  If you decide the community isn't a good fit:  Take some time to identify why your parent isn't happy.  Is the building too big and the halls too imposing?  If your parent's dementia causing him or her to isolate from others?  Is the staff and administration lacking in compassion and/or expertise in working with elders?   Sitting quietly (I know that can be hard when you are under stress) can give you perspective on why the situation isn't working.

3.  If your parent's funds are running very low:  It's easy to underestimate the amount of money needed for long-term care, especially as your parent's needs grow.  The good news is that you may be able to find an assisted living community or adult family home that's considerably less expensive than what you're currently paying.  A financial planner may help you get a handle on how much you can spend of your parent's funds monthly without going broke. 

Once you examine the causes of the problem, you can look for solutions that will work for you and your parent. 

Good luck.  And remember that a bloody nose from being smacked with a baseball isn't the end of world.  Mine happened in second grade.  And I survived. 

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