Friday, September 30, 2016

Eldercare Nursing Assessments: Why? How? And the Cost?

If your aging parent needs care, chances are you'll hear the word assessment.  And possibly something about a charge.   I've had several clients recently ask, "What's with the extra cost?  I'm already paying a big monthly fee."

Here's the skinny on assessments: why, how and cost.

WHY?  Assessments are like entrance exams for services and care.  That includes in-home care, assisted living, adult family homes and nursing homes. 

HOW?  A professional, usually a Registered Nurse or a Social Worker, asks key questions about your parent's care and medical history.  Some samples: Is your parent incontinent?  Does your parent have memory loss and if so, how does that affect day to day life?  Does he or she need help with bathing, dressing or transferring from a chair to standing?  What kind of care, if any, is he or she receiving now?

The assessor also obtains information from your parent's doctor and from recent hospitalizations and nursing home stays.

Your parent gets to chime in, too, if that is appropriate.  If at all possible, the assessment is done in person.

Gathering information helps determine the amount of care needed, whether the provider can meet those needs, and if so, what will be the cost.

COST?  For in-home care through an agency, there is no cost.for an assessment. For assisted living, the community's nurse does the assessment at no direct charge, although it may be part of a required move-in fee.  No assessment fee for nursing homes, either.  Adult family homes in Washington State also require assessments.  Currently assessing nurses charge between $350 and $400 to do an in-person visit as well as inputting information into a State-mandated document.

Another word in your eldercare vocabulary mastered!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Amazing Grace: At Life's End, It Makes Magic

I love the word Grace.  In pastoral circles, it's defined as God's unmerited favor.  I think there's another way to think of it.  It's love and acceptance with no strings attached.

Often grace appears almost magically at the end of life. People tie up loose ends.  They say things they need to say.  They offer and receive forgiveness.  And sometimes the most unlikely people are the instruments of grace:  strangers, professionals and caregivers.

So if your aging parent is at life's end, pay attention.  Be prepared for grace to surprise you.

How do I know? I work with families every day. I see grace at work.  One day two sisters spoke of needing to place their 92-year-old mother in an adult family home.  Her care needs and confusion were increasing.  As I started the process of helping them find a home, the two daughters agreed on what was most important."Our mother needs a place where she can feel safe."

Their mother Lois had been abused as a child and had married an abuser, staying with him until he died.  Even afterward, she suffered from nightmares and anxiety. She needed to heal. 

The daughters found an adult family home provider named Olga who personified motherhood.  She spoke in gentle tones.  She engaged Lois and the other residents in conversation.  Soon Lois began to feel she belonged.

Lois died just four months after arriving in the adult family home.  I expressed my condolences to one of the daughters. She said, "One night I saw Olga putting Mother to bed.  She sang her lullabies.  Afterwards, Mother said, 'Thank you, Mother.'  For the first time, Mother felt safe."

Grace, pure grace.
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