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Choosing the Right Care for an Elder

Did you know … there are nearly 1,000 nursing homes in Ohio?

Did you know … there are more than 550 licensed assisted living facilities in Ohio?

Did you know … there are nearly 650 medical and non-medical home care agencies in Ohio?

When we notice an older person about whom we care is becoming more frail, it’s hard to know when is the ‘right time’ to intervene.  It’s even harder to know where to turn, what to do and how to do it.

With all of the care choices available for our elders, choosing the right care at the right time can be challenging.  And often we are not just dealing with the issues of the elder, we have family and work and home and other obligations to oversee and manage at the same time.  Trying to juggle all of it without dropping any of the balls can add an additional factor for us to deal with:  STRESS.

If one has time to review, understand and evaluate the available options and if the elder is willing and able to see the value in planning ahead, making arrangements for elder care is much less complicated.  But often this is not the case.

We may not recognize or acknowledge the elder’s needs until the situation becomes a crisis.

Or we may live far away and not have the opportunity to witness the elder’s decline – “Mom sounds so good on the phone”.

Or we may see the elder becoming more frail and simply hope that the situation is temporary and will soon improve.

Or the need for more supportive services may be evident to us, but the elder is not yet able or willing to recognize the need.

Or we may recognize the need for additional supports but have never felt comfortable talking with the elder about sensitive issues and have no idea how to begin the discussion.

Or others involved in caring for the elder may not agree with us regarding the timing or the type of intervention that is needed.

Or, as often happens, we are blindsided by a sudden change in condition and need to make critical decisions in a hurry and under the pressure of the health care system – a physician who unexpectedly tells us that Mom can no longer live alone, an emergency room staff who are ready to release Dad but tell us he can’t return home without support, or a hospital social worker who hands us a list of area facilities and tells us that Grandma will be released in a day or two and we must find a suitable place for her to live.

Seeking, in advance of the crisis, the advice of an Elder Law Attorney who offers Life Care Planning affords us the opportunity to be as prepared as possible for the expected and the unanticipated changes that can occur with elder.   Knowing in advance the legal, financial, medical, emotional, social and ‘hands-on’ care options available to the elder can make the planning much less stressful.  Advance planning also allows for a more ‘person-centered’ environment in which decisions can be made, that is, decisions that are focused on the particular likes, needs and wants of the elder rather than our being subject to the pressure to make hasty and sometimes undesirable choices for the elder.

The support of a Life Care Planning team who knows the elder, the family, the situation, the law, the health care system and the available options ensures that we are empowered in our decision making.  The Life Care Planning team arms us with the knowledge, provides us the advocates and lends us the guiding hands we may need when changes in an elder’s health or living situation are looming.  And, with the Life Care Planning team at our side, making the choices between the nearly 1,000 nursing homes, the more than 500 assisted living facilities and the 600-plus home care providers may just feel a little less daunting.

– Posted by Terry Fries-Maloy

Posted in Blog, Older Adults.