In-Home Care “Info Nuggets” – Part 2

In Part 1, Katie Koerper, Operations Manager for Northwest Senior Management Services, described several topics including:  the differences between an agency and a private caregiver, how elders describe their needs and the importance of an advocate.

In Part 2, she continues the theme by addressing topics such as:  how to get started in the process, family relationships, and preparation.  In combination, these two articles relay what it takes to be successful as you arrange care for yourself or for someone else.   With sincere appreciation to Katie here are some more informative ‘nuggets:’

Have you started the process?

“Is your family united on a plan?
Have you identified your resources?
Have you thought about future needs?
Do you understand where you’re going?

Let’s say you had transportation needs so you bought a car and had it delivered to your driveway.  Would that be the answer to your problems?  No.  You’d need to know how to drive, you’d need to pay for gas and maintenance, and you’d need to know where you were going.

It’s much the same with elder care.  These are the things you need to consider, and the sooner you start thinking about them the better prepared you’ll be.

Healthy Family relationships are KEY in elder care

It is both sad and extremely frustrating to deal with families so dysfunctional that the dysfunction becomes the ‘star of the show.’  In other words, there are families who drain away the energy and attention that should be poured into the elder.  We do have clients like this.  The family members actually take more care, more strategic planning, and more resources than we have to give.

I urge you to plan for elder care in your families.  Elders, do what you can to have open, kind communication with the younger people in your family.  Make it easy for your family to help you.

Adult children, you may need to take the lead in re-setting your family relationships.  Be willing to forgive, even if you didn’t get the apology you wanted.  Be willing to get to know your elder again.  He or she is very likely a lot more than you realized.

Be an observer

There are some basic indicators for deciding when care is necessary.  Elders, it’s more than okay to admit when a task becomes difficult or overwhelming.  Adult children, don’t just listen to your elders, but watch to see how they’re doing.  Learn to be an observer.

Emotional issues are difficult

Separating from the emotional issues can be very difficult.  We see a lot of families who carry unrealistic expectations for their elders.  We see adult children thinking that their 88 year old mother is still functioning as she did when she was 58; and there are adult children who still carry a great fear of upsetting their 90-year father.  This doesn’t work.  In order to provide the kind of care and support an older person needs, the family needs to see them as an older person.

When we prepared for our children to be born we studied everything we could find from “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” to “Preparing for Adolescence.”  We knew about the physical and emotional changes that we could expect to see.  Good parents didn’t take these changes personally; they expected the changes and didn’t hold their children at a preschool level just because that’s what they liked best.

So why don’t we do better with our elders?

Become a student of the aging body
Old age comes as a surprise to everyone
Leave room for the inevitable changes in relationships
Don’t be afraid to protect your elder from themselves

Start Preparations

Preparation!  Work together to make sure you have what you need.  Who has access to the finances?  Is there enough to pay privately, or will you need to talk to people at Medicaid?  Are powers of attorney and/or health care representatives in place?  Is there a POLST (Physicians’ Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment)?  These are just a few of the questions to get answers for.

In choosing an in-home care agency make sure you choose an agency that can provide the care your elder needs.  It can be difficult to switch mid-way.  Talk to friends for recommendations, check websites, call agencies and ask about their philosophy of care.

Know about your funding source.  Does your elder or your family have the funds to pay for in-home care?  Are there VA benefits to access?  Is there a long term care insurance policy that would pay for a portion of the care?   If there isn’t any money for care, it will be worth your time to see if they can qualify for Medicaid.”

Working together, understanding emotional needs, being an observer, recognizing the inevitable changes that come with aging….. all of these and more, will only make us better in making appropriate caregiving decisions.

 “Challenges can be stepping stones or stumbling blocks.  It’s just a matter of how you view them” Anonymous