Thursday, June 28, 2018

Moving from Rehab to a New Home is Easier Said than Done

Six professionals, all working in the senior care field, gathered around a table for a general discussion.  One of them, Susan, recently stepped into an unfamiliar role, a role that was fraught with obstacles.

Susan's mother had been living independently when suddenly, due to illness, she landed in the hospital and then in rehab. The doctor's verdict was that she could no longer live independently.  Assisted living, or possibly an adult family home, seemed the best answer.

Susan started the search but found that finding a great place for her mother was easier said than done.  Yes, she had experience working with seniors and their families.  But she needed more than the list the social worker gave her.  Another issue:  the social worker had little time to help people. 

Speaking of "the list," Susan said, it was difficult to work with.

"Assisted living communities and adult family homes were grouped alphabetically by city.  But some cities are so spread out that it takes a lot of effort to find these places.  The list had facilities that no longer existed.  Pricing was missing from the list, as was any kind of description regarding the care provided.  And there was nothing about availability."

After many calls and some visits Susan finally found a new home for her mother.  Yet she realizes there has to be an easier way.  Perhaps hiring a geriatric care manager?  Or working with a good referral agent?  Both those options can make the job easier.  Speaking of referral agencies, Silver Age Referrals can help. 



Sunday, June 24, 2018

Beneath the Surface, Seniors Want to be Seen

Texts, emails, Facebook?  With seniors and their families, these communication modes have limits.  They're great for conveying simple information like dates and times, and yes and no.  However, when we want to learn about the "real person," and want them to learn more about us, we need to go face to face or at least voice to voice.  A simple telephone call or visit can reveal our client's likes and dislikes, distinct personality and sense of timing.

I learned about face to face or voice to voice contact at a young age.  My father was a minister in a small church of between 100 and 150 members.  One of his goals was to make 60 or 70 monthly personal visits to families.  That number seems staggering, but he did it!  He knew the family with the sick grandpa living far away and the one with the teething toddler.  He knew about rebellious teens and out-of-work dads.  I remember him talking down an alcoholic by phone in the middle of the night, and leaving our house to visit the dying.

Decades later, I still value the idea of voice to voice.  Personal contact allows us to see the person, inside and out, if you will.  And with seniors especially, that's very important.  I've made assumptions about elders by hearing statements from their loved ones, such as "My mom is you know, like any other 85-year-old lady with a walker, grey hair and glasses."  When I actually laid eyes on the woman, I got a completely different picture.

Today I read a newspaper article by Hannah Brencher, author of "Come Matter Here."  In it she talks about a simple prayer she uses to direct her life, one word at a time.  It's "Reduce me to love."  She shares a story of a disheveled homeless man who enters their church, starts playing his harmonica in the foyer, and says to Hannah, "Look beneath the surface.  Beneath the surface, we all just want to be seen."

I think that especially applies to seniors.  Beneath the surface, like all of us, they all just want to be seen.
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