Monday, November 26, 2018

Eldercare Q-A: Assisted Living, Memory Care, Which does Dad Need?

A client is asking:

My 85-year-old dad has been healthy until now.  He's beginning to shuffle which I know can be a sign of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.  His  younger brother has Alzheimer's and lives in a Memory Care Community.  Dad hasn't been eating, he no longer drives and he lives in an isolated community near a mountain pass.

I want to know:  What's the difference between assisted living and memory care?

My answer:  

In Washington State, assisted living communities, including memory care communities, are authorized by law to do heavier care than in most states.  However, the level of care here varies.  Here's what I mean:

Light to moderate care assisted living--These communities focus on activities and provide light care such as medication management, help with bathing and dressing, and cueing.  Residents with dementia can live here as long as they have no behaviors which would potentially endanger themselves or others.  No exit-seeking, wandering into other resident's apartments, or socially inappropriate behavior.  In addition, these light to moderate care communities usually can't care for people who need a lot of help in the day or night.  If a person has a diagnosis of dementia, they might need to move to memory care in another building later. 

A building with both assisted living and memory care in the same building.  This type of building has separate areas for assisted living and memory care.  Alternately, there are two buildings--and two programs--side by side on the same property.  The memory care residents have a program specially designed for their needs.  It is a quieter setting with higher staffing than in assisted living.  It is secure so residents can't leave the building.  In memory care residents are able to receive care that includes feeding and behavior management.  People often will move into the assisted living area and move to memory care when their dementia advances.  

Stand-alone memory care communities--A resident in this type of community must have a dementia diagnosis.  Generally residents have varying degrees of dementia. Some are pleasantly confused.  Others have significant dementia.  Like other memory communities, and many assisted living communities, residents can generally stay through end of life. 

A little complicated?  I sent this brief explanation with examples to my client so we can discuss which type of community he would prefer.  Families have different priorities.  Some absolutely don't want Dad to move twice.  Others want a great fit now and if necessary will move Dad later.  Touring several communities may help spotlight the one that works best.

What experience do you have with memory care?  Has it been positive?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Eldercare Resource: 'Nancy's Lifts' does more than give rides to seniors.

Nancy Balin, owner of Nancy's Lifts
Nancy Balin owns a business, to be specific, a transportation network company.

It's called Nancy's Lifts. She drives seniors and others to places they need to go:  doctor's offices and hair stylists, meetings and outings. And even to the airport.  Many of her clients are debating on whether to give up driving altogether or to adapt to a new lifestyle that requires minimal driving, so they are relieved to have as an alternative a safe, known driver like Nancy.

There's more to this story:  a year ago Nancy worked as a lawyer while heading a fledgling not-for-profit organization called Family Jewels Foundation.  Its mission was to save young men's lives by alerting them to the symptoms of testicular cancer, the number one cancer in the 15 to 44 age group.  Nancy had been personally affected when her 20-year-old son died of the disease.  Early detection likely would have saved his life.

Speaking about testicular cancer and fundraising for her foundation  takes lots of time.  So Nancy retired from the lawyering and launched the driving business, to help pay the bills. 

First she passed an extensive  defensive driving course, got her business license and met the other state requirements.

Why do her clients--seniors and others--choose her?  Nancy has lived in the Bothell/Woodinville area--her main service area--for over 15 years. She is well acquainted with Western Washington.

"I'm local. I know how to navigate.  I speak English well, and I have references," she says.

"I have elderly parents.  So I treat my senior passengers like I'm driving with my parents."  That means reminding them about packing the C-Pap Machine, their ID and their medications.  It means Nancy putting the belongings and luggage into the car herself.  It may mean pulling the walker out of the trunk and escorting the senior into the doctor's office instead of dropping them off at the curb.  

Often her passengers will ask her about the rest of her life, and she says, "I'm doing this to help me be able to save young men's lives."  She often asks people, 'Do you have any males in your life ages 15 to 44 whom you care about?' Many of them do."  So Nancy educates them about testicular cancer, in the hopes that their families won’t have to suffer the way hers has.

Nancy is giving seniors and others a lift while working to save the lives of young men.  For more information about Nancy's Lifts, call 206-550-9570.

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