Aging in Place

You can hardly pick up anything written concerning senior care without reading about the concept of so-called, “Aging in Place”. In some spaces it’s heralded as the panacea for all the troubles we face caring for those older than we. Truth is, it truly can be a wonderful way to care for our loved ones. (However, it also has some challenges.)

We know seniors always do better at home… in the place they love (with their own germs!)… where they know where everything is and feel most comforted.

But, as you might expect, there are a number of ‘secrets’ to truly successful aging in place outcomes.

Secret #1: It Takes a Village

When someone chooses to age in place, all of the services and talented personnel that might provide for their needs in an institutional setting are now requested to come to someone’s home. Think: Aides, doctors, nurses, hairdressers, physical therapists, social workers and more. That’s a lot of traffic… so be ready!

Also know that, as a rule, the amount/duration/type of care provided in a home setting is likely to increase over time. Plan on it.

Secret #2: Build a Team You Can Trust

You might not find the perfect home health agency on your first time out, its like finding a good psychologist or mate.  Or your second. Or even, maybe, your third. Be ready to take the time you need to vet the people and organizations to whom you entrust care responsibilities. You may find, after some trial and error, that you need to work with more than one home care agency.  (While not common, this does become necessary on occasion. Some agencies take Medicare payments for certain things like physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc…not to mention hospice.

Secret #3: Be Sure Your Team is Complete

Some team members are obvious, like we mentioned in Secret #1. But some aren’t. And even though these folks don’t jump to mind when you’re thinking about who you’ll need, you would do well to include these professionals on your team:

1) A Geriatric Care Manager (GMC).

My last blog goes into some detail about what a Geriatric Care Manager is and does. The best ones will lead you and your family through lots of new territory with ease. Hire a good one. We can recommend some.

2) An Elder Law Attorney.

As I’ve often said, “No one likes lawyers until they need one.” Nowhere is this more true than when you are coping with the morass of rules, regs and laws surrounding aging. Do Mom and Dad have a signed, up-to-date will in place?

Have your grandparents looked at ways to protect their assets from nursing home costs before the costs become necessary? Do your parents know that Medicare does not pay for extended nursing home stays? Do they have a Power of Attorney, Proxy ?  An Elder Law attorney is essential to assist you in these complicated matters. We can recommend some if you need a referral.

3) A Senior Advocate.

You probably can’t be with your loved ones every minute to look after the myriad number of everyday tasks that need attention… like mail triage, doctor appointment accompaniment/narrative, bill-paying, insurance/banking advocacy,

home/auto maintenance issues and more. A senior advocate does exactly that and is very helpful in keeping the household running smoothly while keeping scammers that prey on the elderly at bay.  We can recommend several.

Secret #4: Stay Open To Change

There is a possibility that, over time, aging at home just won’t work anymore.

It can happen when you can’t identify trustworthy caregivers. It can happen when Mom or Dad’s condition simply declines to a point where staying home is no longer safe for them. But it does happen. You (and they) still have options.  In order to age in place families must work together to identify support systems when the unexpected happen and it will.

There are care settings out there where your loved ones may do quite well, depending upon the challenges they face. You’ll hear phrases like, ‘Assisted Living’, ‘Skilled Nursing’, ‘Memory Care’, ‘Adult Home’, ‘Hospice Care’ and more.

While it is beyond the scope of this blog to explain the care levels available, we ask you to look at our next blog, #13. In it we describe, in some depth, the various types of non-home care available to you and your loved ones.

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