Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eldercare Q-A: Help! Mom Needs to Move Now! What to do?

Nobody plans for their aging parent to suffer a stroke.  Or careen down the dementia road so quickly you can't see the crisis coming.  Or fracture a hip.

Perhaps your aging parent has fallen into one of these--or a sundry other--eldercare crises.  You want to find a safe, comfortable, affordable new home ASAP. But you're short on two things:

You're long on one thing: stress.

An eldercare housing specialist could be the answer to your prayers. Also called senior care advisors, they are becoming a growing choice nationwide. Eldercare housing specialists use their knowledge of retirement, assisted, and other residential care options to help you find the right fit. They don't charge clients fees for their service. Instead, the community pays the eldercare referral service a commission on move-in.

Jean and John are sold on this option.  One night they received a call from the Tacoma police.  John's mother had driven from her home--some 35 miles away--into the city, running out of gas. What was she doing there? She hadn't a clue.  "It was obvious she couldn't live safely in her home," Jean said. They called Heidi Sheldon of Options for Elders. Heidi showed them several care and housing options; the family chose their favorite. Soon John's mom was tucked in, safe and sound, in her new adult family home.

Another success story: Bertha's dementia was evident to the staff at the retirement community where she lived. She did OK until the administration realized that her hoarding was a fire hazard. She had to move ASAP.  Her son called a local senior housing specialist. Together they viewed options and quickly settled her into her new home: an assisted living community with specialized care.

Not every story ends so happily.  In Washington, two years ago the Seattle Times published a series of articles, "Seniors for Sale," which documented instances of senior care referral agencies placing residents into adult family homes with documented records of abuse and neglect.  That series spawned a public outcry which eventually led to new legislation regulating senior care referral agencies.  It went into affect January 1.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Eldercare Q-A: Retirement or Assisted Living--What's the Difference?

What's the difference between retirement and assisted living?  I'd love to have a dollar for every time a Boomer asks that question regarding his or her aging parent.  See if your parent fits into one of the following.

1.  Does he or she need meals, housekeeping, transportation to doctor's, grocery stores, etc., and activities but is pretty independent otherwise?  If you answer yes to several of these, a RETIREMENT COMMUNITY is probably a good fit.  In this type of living situation, your mother or father receives lots of support--physical and emotional, but no personal care from the retirement community staff.

2. Does your parent need all of the above plus help with bathing, dressing and/or medication setup?  If his or her personal care needs can be scheduled--showers on Tuesday and Thursday, for example, one option is to hire a HOME CARE agency to come into the retirement community. Often, but not always, this is cheaper than moving to an assisted living community.

3.  Another option for personal care is moving to ASSISTED LIVING.  This offers all the benefits of a retirement community, plus on-site staff.  They can help with a wider range of needs, many of which can't be scheduled.  Some examples:  cuing and reminding for someone with dementia, incontinence care, and medication assistance. Assisted living communities differ widely on the scope of care they can provide.  So ask lots of questions if you go that route.

For years I've described retirement community residents this way: they paddle their own canoe.  Sometimes they get tired and need help from children to stay independent, but generally they know how to move forward. Assisted living residents need life jackets and others to paddle (figuratively) due to cognitive, emotional and/or physical needs.  General statements like these don't always hold water, but hopefully you get what I mean.

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