By Peggy Papert, LCSW
What to do After Your Loved One Shows Signs of Needing More Care.
It can be overwhelming knowing where to start when your loved one shows signs of decline and is in need of additional care. But more help is available than you might realize. Here are some tips on how to begin.
First, look into some local home care agencies. Your doctor or geriatrician can suggest agencies with which they are familiar. Friends, family, or even colleagues may have experience with care communities in your area, and could offer suggestions, as well.
Talking to prospective agencies or individual caregivers is important: You will want to know how each is equipped to provide the proper care for your loved one. During your interviews, ask if caregivers are trained to work with dementia clients or physically limited folks.
Observe prospective caregivers and watch to see if they demonstrate compassion and patience. Listen to how they communicate. For agencies, it is especially important to know if a plan is in place for when a caregiver does not come to work, or must leave early for any reason.
Individual caregivers you find based on word-of-mouth can work well, but have a back-up plan for situations when they may not be available. Know that agencies perform detailed background checks on their caregivers, and are also licensed and insured to provide care. Consider this when making decisions about the care of your loved one.
Location is a major factor to consider when finding a place for your loved one. The easier it is for you to visit, the more time you will have not just caregiving and visitation, but also for yourself.
Develop a good understanding of the different levels of care options available. Options range from home care to independent or assisted living and extend to memory care and resident care homes. Certain agencies will provide day programs for folks living with dementia or other limitations.
Your doctor can help recommend what setting is best for Mom, Dad, or your spouse. If something occurred requiring a hospitalization for your loved one, always involve the social worker, discharge planner or care team. They can make recommendations, as well.
It is best to involve your loved one in these discussions. What are their concerns? What are your concerns? Are they able to make decisions themselves, even if it may be a “bad” decision? Do you have Power of Attorney over healthcare to make decisions when they can no longer do so, themselves?
If there are differing opinions about how much care, if any, is needed, involve their physician, a trusted relative, friends, or a clergy person to assist. Often, a spouse or adult child is the last person your loved one will listen to. Attend doctor appointments with your loved one as much as possible. Call ahead, if needed, and explain the situation to the doctor or nurse.
Finally, talk to a social worker or nurse care manager who can make a health and home assessment. They can serve as an objective third-party to help make recommendations and are perfect in looking after a loved one when family members live out of town or have busy, working lives and are not readily available.
Take advantage of all the help available to you. It will save you time, money, and emotional energy.
Peggy Papert is the owner and social work care manager for Elder Care Consultants of Texas. Her mission is to streamline the steps needed to navigate through your loved ones later years. For more than 35 years, she has worked as a licensed clinical social worker in a wide array of settings: from assisting families and older adults through a variety of aging transitions, to in and outpatient psychiatric and medical hospitals, private practice, managing mental health and substance abuse benefits and pastoral coordination. Peggy also serves on the board of Dallas Area Gerontological Society, DAGS. http://www.eldercareconsultantstexas.com