How to Prevent Theft by Caregivers

How to Prevent Theft by Caregivers Part 1

 

 

 

 

One of the most common worries about hiring in-home help is that the caregiver could take advantage of your older adult. Even though the relationship between a hired caregiver and the family should be based on trust, it’s smart to take steps to prevent theft or fraud.

 

 

 

Prepare Your House First

 

Protect your senior from theft or fraud by removing or taking inventory of valuables, not keeping cash around, and watching bank and credit card statements carefully.

 

Keep an inventory of valuables in the home. Compile a list and take pictures to document your parent’s valuables, put them under lock and key, or remove them from the home.

 

Don’t forget about hidden jewelry or valuables, and think about removing any valuable memorabilia displayed in the house. There’s no need to put temptation in front of anyone.

 

 

 

Don’t invite petty theft. Your parent should keep only a small amount of cash at home. Don’t leave money in obvious places, such as the nightstand next to the bed. Make sure your loved one keeps any checkbook, ATM and credit cards, and computer passwords in a secure place.

 

 

 

Pay Attention

 

After spending some time with the hired caregiver, pay attention to how you feel about them in your gut. Most people work hard to make a great impression at the start of a new job. But later, you might start to see a different personality show through.

 

Arlo Security System – 4 Wire-Free HD Cameras, Indoor/Outdoor, Night Vision

If you start to feel uneasy, trust your gut and talk with their agency. If it’s a private hire, you might want to investigate for theft and (secretly) observe them carefully for a while.

 

If they continue to make you feel suspicious or uneasy, look for a new caregiver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Your Homework

 

 

Whether using a home care agency or hiring an independent caregiver, it’s important to do your research to make sure that you’re getting a reliable person.

 

Of course, no one knows better than me that this isn’t a foolproof method — but due diligence is still required on your part.

 

Home care agencies are responsible for fingerprinting and screening to make sure potential aides don’t have criminal records or other complaints against them.

 

When selecting a home care agency, ask how they screen potential caregivers, how many theft accusations they’ve had in the past and how they’ve handled them. Will they replace stolen items?

 

Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of Accurate Home Care in Otsego, Minn., says that her agency reports theft accusations to the authorities and cooperates however possible. The caregiver is suspended until the investigation is over. If found guilty of theft, the caregiver is fired and reported to the Department of Human Services.

 

After you’ve picked an agency, it’s still wise to interview caregivers they assign to the job. If you don’t feel comfortable — at any time that the person is working for you — tell the agency that this person is not the right match for you.

 

When hiring an aide without going through an agency, spend the time and money to check them out, advises Lisa A. Lieberman, a licensed clinical social worker, family counselor and author of A ‘Stranger’ Among Us: Hiring In-Home Support for a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorders or Other Neurological Differences.

 

She stresses checking references, especially ones from previous employers, and scheduling a face-to-face interview before making a decision.

 

A criminal background check is one way to make sure that applicants are who they say they are. For example, SentryLink will conduct a background check on an individual and send the results via email for around $20.

 

Unfortunately, these precautions aren’t enough to guarantee you won’t get ripped off. Detective Mike Cruce of the Oro Valley, Ariz., police department, who solved the case of my missing laptop, warned that just because the prospective caregiver doesn’t have a criminal record doesn’t mean that you still can’t be victimized by them.

Just ask my caregiver, who had no criminal record when she stole my laptop.

 

 

 

 

Trust Your Instincts

 

 

Most people try to make a good first impression, so keep in mind that caregivers need to earn your trust and maintain it by being reliable over time. If you develop an uneasy feeling about a caregiver and aren’t quite sure they can be trusted, you could be right.

 

 

 

Everyone in the household should be comfortable with the caregiver. If you live alone, ask visiting family members and friends for their opinions of the caregiver and how she/he interacts with you.

 

In my case, my caregiver the laptop thief was shy but likable at the beginning — but after a few weekends with her, I began to wonder if I could trust her. It wasn’t one particular thing she did but a strange feeling that entered the room along with her. I began to secretly look after my wallet. She started showing up late, or not coming at all, and her excuses were hard to believe.

 

At that time, I should have called the agency and requested another caregiver. But I figured I was stuck with her, because the agency had been having trouble finding a caregiver to work in my part of town. This is a very real issue for people with disabilities nationwide; many people accept personal care attendants who are abusive because there is no one else to fill the gap.

 

Next time, I will make any uneasy feelings known to the agency.

 

 

 

Don’t Be So Darn Nice

 

The trick is to be comfortable with the caregiver, but not too comfortable, says Nelson. The same goes for caregivers: They need to feel comfortable in your home, but not so comfortable that personal boundaries are crossed. For instance, most agencies have rules against caregivers accepting loaned money, whether it’s solicited or not. Even if you don’t use an agency, it’s always wise not to let caregivers borrow money or important items.  

 

When James Kelley, who has facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), loaned one of his caregivers his very expensive leather-bound King James Master Study Bible, he never imagined he’d have a problem getting it back, because “who’s going to steal a Bible?”

 

The caregiver in this case asked to borrow his Bible for a couple of days, but after weeks went by and she still hadn’t returned it, Kelley, 44, confronted her. She assured him that she would bring it back. After a month passed and still no Bible, he called the home health agency, which contacted the caregiver — but she still didn’t bring it back.

 

That’s when Kelley, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, contacted his case manager, who advised him to call the police and file a report. He felt strange about filing a report over a Bible, but the detective assured him that, “If you don’t get some of these people when they’re taking small amounts, then they continue to push the envelope and see what else they can get away with.”

 

Kelley eventually got his Bible back after the detective told his caregiver that Kelley would press charges against her if she didn’t return it. The detective warned that she didn’t want it on her record, especially since she’s a health care worker.

 

Kelley ended up asking the caregiver not to come back.

 

Even trustworthy caregivers can forget they borrowed something. Consider this scenario: You lend your paid caregiver a book and, for practical reasons, keys to your house, but then due to everyday circumstances — a move, a career change, etc. — the caregiver stops working with you before the items are returned.

 

 

 

Caregivers and House Keys

 

In the case of the house keys, the best way to prevent that scenario is to never give the caregiver a permanent set. Instead, buy a key lockbox, like those used by real estate agents, and hang it on your front door handle with a key or keys inside.

 

 

Master Lock 5400D Select Access Key Storage Box with Set-Your-Own Combination Lock, 13/32-Diameter Shackle, 1-Pack

 

When a caregiver arrives at your home for work, he or she just punches in the code to the lockbox (like this Master Lock Select Access Key Storage Box pictured above) and retrieves the key — and then returns it to the lockbox after opening the door. The lockbox code is easily changed, meaning you don’t need to change your locks every time you change caregivers.

 

 

 

Protect Your Stuff

 

Detective Cruce says it’s especially important for those with multiple caregivers, or with a “revolving door” of caregivers who are new each time, to secure their valuables. Having multiple caregivers definitely complicates theft investigations, making it difficult to pinpoint who’s responsible for missing items.

 

When she started using a home care agency in 2006 due to her amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Fern Cohen, of Rego Park, N.Y., was sent different caregivers every day. When her brand-new digital camera was stolen, the agency wouldn’t do anything because she couldn’t prove who stole it, even though Cohen knew who was working the day she found it missing.

 

“[The revolving door] was my main reason for switching from agency care to self-directed care,” says Cohen, 58. She now has a handpicked staff of four trustworthy caregivers.

 

(Self-directed care means that people with disabilities have decision-making authority over certain services, and take direct responsibility in managing their services, including personal care aides. Self-directed services may not be available in every state and may vary from state to state. Check with your state’s Medicaid program or your personal insurance for more details.)

 

After the digital camera incident, Cohen also realized she could take measures herself to avoid enabling theft in her home. So to safeguard her valuables — from otherwise trusted eyes as well as the hands of strangers — she bought a safe.

 

But theft is not limited to physical possessions. Be sure to monitor bank accounts and credit card charges and look for anything unusual. Staying aware of your financial situation and transactions may help detect a theft. Also, hide important documents and consider storing duplicate copies in a safe place with family members or friends.

 

For example, Kelley learned the hard way that it’s wise to always request a receipt when the caregiver returns from shopping for you. He gave one of his caregivers his food stamp card to go to the store for him one afternoon, and she didn’t bring back a receipt.

 

“It was a red flag when she didn’t bring back a receipt, so I waited until she left and went back over to the store with my food stamp card, and I told them that I needed them to run an audit on the card,” Kelley says.

 

Within a few days, the store provided an itemized computer printout that showed his caregiver had purchased $10 worth of items for herself.

 

Even if people take the precautions mentioned here, some may find it comforting to also monitor caregivers with nanny cams or webcams. This option can be very expensive and time-consuming, so research this technology and its associated costs before deciding if it’s right for you. (Also, consult an attorney, or familiarize yourself with state laws governing video surveillance and speech before recording anything.)

 

 

 

 

Break the Cycle

 

As for my stolen work laptop, I didn’t even know it was missing until I received a phone call from the support coordinator at the agency where my caregiver worked asking: “Are you missing a laptop computer?”

 

I went to check under my bed (not a good hiding spot), all the while thinking, “If it’s missing, she stole it.”

 

My support coordinator said that the whereabouts of my laptop were still unknown but that my caregiver’s ride had called the agency and reported that she had bragged about stealing it from beneath my bed. My support coordinator also told me that my caregiver had quit the day before.

 

I decided to press charges against my caregiver thief because I didn’t want this happening to anyone else. Later, I heard from the prosecutor that she had similar charges before, which were dropped by the client. The fact that she already had a second chance and blew it made me feel a little better about pressing charges.

 

A few days later, Detective Cruce returned my work laptop after convincing my now former caregiver that the judge would go much easier on her if she relinquished it.

 

“Theft is not uncommon for people who are vulnerable,” says Cruce, adding that every state has laws to help protect people who are vulnerable to abuse due to their age or disability. “Theft from a vulnerable adult is a crime by itself,” he continues. “So not only do you get charged with theft, but you also get charged with theft from a vulnerable adult; therefore, the consequences could be doubled.”

 

As of this writing, my former caregiver had received a $25 fine and was sentenced to 36 months of probation, during which she’s not allowed to have any contact with me. Theft from a vulnerable adult will appear on her record.

 

 

 

Be Prepared — Just in Case

 

It’s impossible to avoid getting ripped off. It happens to everyone, but it’s even more upsetting when you have a disability and you’re paying and relying on the culprit to help you live more independently. People with disabilities face the additional difficulty of having to get rid of a vital caregiver often without having another qualified person to instantly replace him or her.  

 

We love our caregivers. They are, literally, the reason we can get out of bed every morning. Most of them are dedicated to their caregiving jobs and are totally trustworthy.

 

But it’s smart to be prepared in case one of them decides to pull a fast one.   

 

 

 

Minimizing Stranger Danger

 

Allowing a “stranger,” even a professional caregiver with good references, into your home can be a scary proposition. But deciding when and how to work with outside caregivers is far less daunting if you assess your options and perform due diligence to evaluate candidates for the position.

Lisa A. Lieberman’s A ‘Stranger’ Among Us: Hiring In-Home Support for a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorders or Other Neurological Differences offers readers, especially parents, tips on how to do just that.

Lieberman, of Oswego, Ore., is a licensed clinical social worker and family counselor as well as an author and speaker.

 

 

 

Read:  How to Prevent Theft by Caregivers Part 2

 

 

 

Thoughts, questions, tips?  Feel free to comment below.

 

 

Recommended Reading: 

How to Care for Aging Parents (3rd Edition)A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues

by Virginia Morris

 

 

 

 

 

Please help others by sharing this post. Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInDigg thisPin on Pinterest

Things Your Loved One Needs in a Nursing Home

 

Things Your Loved One Needs in a Nursing Home

 

 

 

 

Most of us dread the thought of moving a loved one into a skilled nursing facility, and this sentiment doesn’t change for those who are fortunate enough to have a selection of stellar facilities to choose from.

We know that we are giving up a certain amount of direct oversight, which can be hard even though we are well aware of our limitations as individual caregivers.

We also know deep down that this move is an admission that a loved one has passed a certain point in their health where returning home or resuming even a few aspects of self-care is no longer a possibility.

 

In other words, this transition is a direct dose of reality.

 

 

 

 

 

As with all changes in life, knowing what to expect ahead of time can be extremely helpful mentally and emotionally as well as practically. I asked Amy Laughlin, BA, AP-BC, ADC, an Activity Professional and Senior Living Educator based in Rock Hill, South Carolina, to work out a nursing home checklist.

Amy’s comprehensive list below explains our loved ones’ rights, questions to ask the facility you are considering, and how to best anticipate and prepare for their needs.

 

 

Skilled Nursing Facilities Federal Regulations

 

Federal regulations, which are overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), require that skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) provide the following to all residents:

 

  • A room with a window to the outside for natural light and orientation to the time of day, weather and season;
  • A bed of appropriate size and height;
  • A clean, comfortable mattress;
  • Bedding, which is appropriate to the weather/climate; and
  • Furniture appropriate to the resident’s needs, including a separate closet or clothing storage spaces.

 

 

These regulations also require SNFs to provide a “safe, clean comfortable and homelike environment.” In other words, the goal is for these facilities to be less institutional and more homelike, so residents have the opportunity to bring many items and personal effects with them to help create a meaningful and individual living space.

 

 

 

Before Moving to a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

 

 

Look at the room carefully. How much floor space is there, and how much storage space will your loved one have? There must be enough room to maneuver a wheelchair or other mobility aid and for caregivers to safely transfer and care for your loved one.

Check to see if the facility will remove the provided nightstand, chest, or chair so that they can bring some personal pieces of furniture. If this is an option, make sure that none of their furniture encroaches on a roommate’s space or limits mobility within the room.

 

Ask questions about what the facility provides that is included in the fee.

The following are common questions that can reveal a great deal about what may need to be purchased or left at home. It can also expose services and items that come at an additional cost:

 

  • Are bedding and towels provided?
  • Is the laundering of linen included?
  • Does my loved one’s room have cable or a digital signal, and is it included in the monthly cost?
  • What about local and long distance telephone service?
  • Is there public and/or secure wifi access available?
  • Can personal laundry services be added for an additional fee?
  • Do they provide a wall clock, TV or personal care products?

 

Every SNF  (Skilled Nursing Facility) is different. No family member wants to receive a terrible shock when they get the first bill and discover that all the services they thought were included were actually optional extras.

 

 

 

Nursing Home Packing List

 

 

What to Pack for Moving to a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

 

Aside from making the decision to move your loved one into a SNF, helping them pick and choose what to pack and what to purge is one of the most difficult parts of this transition.

Caregivers often help their family members sort through entire homes, garages and storage units full of belongings, furniture and family heirlooms. These individuals have been collecting personal items for decades, and it can be difficult for them to simultaneously “lose” their home and the majority of their possessions.

Many caregivers enable their loved ones hold onto some family heirlooms, seasonal clothing and décor, valuables, and other important belongings by storing them at their own home, dispersing them among trusted family members or renting a storage unit. This helps elders feel they still have access to their possessions or at least that these things have been passed on to individuals who will cherish and respect them.

Regardless of the method you and your loved one decide to use, there are some important considerations and limitations that apply to each category of a nursing home packing list.

 

 

Clothing and Accessories for Living in a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

When deciding what kinds of clothing to bring to a skilled nursing facility and how much, there are a number of practical matters that should influence your loved one’s packing list.

Remember that Clothing must be easy to get on and off and able to withstand lots of washing and drying.

 

Remember that Clothing must be easy to get on and off and able to withstand lots of washing and drying.

While the temperature inside the facility is regulated to a level that would be perfectly comfortable for most active adults, the majority of Skilled Nursing Facility residents tend to be cold-natured. Make sure your loved one has warm and comfortable sweatshirts, vests or jackets that can be worn with every outfit, as well as cozy socks that can be worn in bed. 

I like Silvert’s Adaptable Clothing best for these items because they specialize in garments that make dressing easier, and their excellent quality can stand up to institutional laundering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a wide variety of other high quality brands of adaptive clothing available, so you’ll have plenty of choices for comfortable basics that will be wearable and durable.  Also, don’t forget to make sure your loved one has non skid slippers.

 

 

 

 

 

The number of outfits they should bring depends on who will be doing their laundry and how often.

A good rule of thumb is to bring at least a week’s worth of clothing—probably more just to provide for additional changes that may be needed, and make sure you label everything.

If at all possible, it is helpful if whoever does the laundry returns their clothes to their closet clipped or hung together as outfits, so they are easily able to choose an outfit rather than having to choose separate tops and bottoms.

 

 

These AVERY Permanent Adhesive No-Iron Clothing Labels  are excellent for making sure your loved one’s items don’t get misplaced. 

 

 

 

 

 

You just write (use a permanent marker like the one above), peel and stick; no ironing required.  Their permanent adhesive will withstand multiple washing machine and dryer cycles.

 

 

Accessories are part of a person’s individual style and should be encouraged! Nothing too valuable or with sharp points or edges should be brought with, but if Mom has always worn bright scarves or glittery beads, make sure she has some she can wear every day. If Dad always wore a certain hat, make sure he has it available.

Women often want their purse close by, and men don’t feel quite right without a wallet in their pocket. Let them bring their wallet or a favorite purse. Even if they will be rarely embarking on outings, it will help them retain a sense of control and independence in a world that is completely new, strange and scary. You could even put a few dollar bills or some change in it. Just make sure you take out all insurance cards, bank cards and credit cards first.

 

 

 

 

Personal Care Products for Living in a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

Most of us have our favorite soap, shampoo, lotion and toothpaste that we have used for years. This is no different for a senior who is moving into a nursing home. Even something as simple as providing their favorite brands and products can help them feel that their routine hasn’t been completely turned upside-down. Some of these personal care items may be available from the facility, but be aware that they may come with extra charges.

 

 

Families generally provide these items and facility staff should let you know when your loved one is running low. It can be helpful to keep a small stash of extra products in a box or basket in their closet or bathroom to avoid running out at the last minute.

 

  • Be sure to pick their favorite fragrances or well-loved brands. Although your loved one might be washed and bathed by someone else, using familiar products, especially familiar scents, can make the experience much more comfortable.

 

 

 

Linens and Bedclothes for Living in a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

  • Basic linen, such as bedding and towels, is provided and laundered by the facility.
  • Most individuals also love to have soft, warm blankets or quilts on their beds—perhaps a favorite from their home.

 

 

  • A small lap blanket or throw is also nice to tuck around their legs or shoulders when they are sitting in an armchair or wheelchair. Make sure these items are machine washable and able to take a fair amount of laundering.

 

  • Remember that a handmade crocheted blanket will not hold up to frequent washing and drying in the facility’s industrial machines.  And don’t forget to label it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electrical Items and Technology for Living in a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

  • Family members usually provide a small TV, sometimes also a DVD player for their loved one. Label both items, as well as the remotes, and don’t forget to provide spare batteries.
  • If your loved one will have a roommate, consider purchasing wireless headphones so that they can watch TV at any volume without disturbing anyone.
  • Ask the facility if they allow extension cords. Some facilities completely prohibit them, since they can pose a trip and fall risk, but others allow them at limited times of the year (such as one for plugging in a Christmas tree).
  • Many SNF residents love using their smart phones, tablets and laptops. If wifi is available at the facility, make sure you know of any passwords and fees associated with it, as well as if the bandwidth is sufficient to stream videos. If the wifi is not secure, make sure your loved one does not log onto online banking website or any other sites where their personal information could be vulnerable to hackers and scam artists.
  • All electronic devices should be clearly labeled with the resident’s name, and if possible, contain a GPS locator in case they ever go missing. Don’t forget chargers and connecting cords.

 

 

Decorative Touches for Living in a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

  • Plan to decorate their room for holidays and events. A small seasonal wreath for their door, holiday cards, and wall décor are a great way to remind your loved one of the holiday without taking up precious space on their nightstand or dresser. Window clings are an inexpensive and reusable decorative item that can be easily applied to and removed from a window or mirror. You may have to store seasonal items that are currently not being used if there is not enough storage space in their room.
  • A favorite door decoration is also a good cue for your loved one that they have returned to “their” room after a meal or activity. Many doors in the SNF look the same, but theirs will stand out.

 

  • Fresh flowers and plants brighten up windowsills and dressers. Just be sure to pick low-maintenance varieties that will not create any mess. If your loved one is assigned to a room with a less than ideal view from their window, this small touch can make a big difference. You and your loved one can arrange flowers or water the plants together as an activity.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Things to Have in a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

 

  • Your loved one should be able to look around their room and say, “these are a few of my favorite things.” These items should hold personal significance, promote happy reminiscence and stimulate the senses in some way.
  • Family pictures are important and can be posted on a bulletin board, stored in a scrapbook or photo album, uploaded to a digital picture frame, or displayed as a collage on the wall. It can also be helpful to stick a small label under each photo or on the back to explain the name and relationship to your loved one of those pictured. This enables them to share their pictures without having the pressure of remembering names, faces and relationships all at once.

 

 

  • Another sentimental item may be their favorite artwork or posters. Keep in mind that wall space in SNF rooms is limited, and the facility may have rules about what hardware is allowed to hang frames and other wall decor.
  • Numerous vendors sell affordable prints of famous works of art, nature scenes, military memorabilia, old movie posters, and much more. The options are endless!  Posters can be placed in inexpensive poster frames to make them look more polished, and the artwork can be changed out periodically at little expense.

 

 

Two Girls at the Piano by Pierre-Auguste Renoir Poster Print, 16x20

Two Girls at the Piano by Pierre-Auguste Renoir Poster Print, 16×20

Georges Seurat (La Grande Jatte) Poster Art Print – 24×36

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • A CD player and CDs or a MP3 player loaded with favorite music, can also be a small, but meaningful addition to a loved one’s room. Just as with the television, headphones of some kind are probably a wise investment.
  • Other types of treasured items might include favorite snacks or treats (as appropriate to their current dietary needs), scented lotions, a stuffed animal, sports memorabilia or team colors, a couple of favorite books, or small pieces or items from a personal collection are helpful.
  • It is important to note that most facilities prohibit breakable items like china and glass, electric blankets, scented plug-ins, and, of course, any sort of open flame (candles), and weapons.

 

 

Hobbies for Living in a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

Days at the SNF can be long, especially at the beginning when your loved one is trying to remember new people and adapt to new routines as well as struggle with their own loss of independence.

The facility should have a diverse and interesting activities program, but your loved one will still have the opportunity to pursue their personal interests or hobbies.

 

 

One of the biggest parts of their packing list is making sure they have the items they need to remain engaged and entertained.

 

 

  • Newspaper and magazine subscriptions can easily be arranged and changed, and these items can be delivered directly to the facility.

 

USA Today

Reader's Digest

 

 

 

  • Many facilities have libraries of books, or the local public library might deliver to the facility. If your loved one is a reader, make sure they always have a couple great books on their nightstand. If they are no longer able to read, even a book of inspirational stories or favorite poems can be useful for visitors to read these aloud with them.

 

Graphic1

  • You might also consider setting them up with an Audible membership to download audio books on an MP3 player or other device.

 

 

 

 

52" x 71" Traditional High Quality Jewish Kosher Tallit / Tallis / Talit / Talis Prayer Shawl Made in Israel - White, Black and Gold

 

 

If your loved one is religious, make sure they have their religious texts of choice, plus any associated items or prayer aids, such as a rosary, shawl, crucifix, etc.

 

 

Catholic Women's Aqua Glass Bead Rosary with White Zipper Vinyl Case

 

  • Provide a labeled tote or bin of supplies for their favorite art or craft, like knitting, crocheting or painting. Adult coloring has become incredibly popular with the senior population lately. They may enjoy one of these books and a set of colored pencils.

 

 

 

 

 

  • For puzzle masters, large print books of word finds, crossword puzzles, Sudoku and jigsaw puzzles are a must. Decks of cards and simple board games can also help pass the time or provide a structured activity for when grandchildren come to visit.

 

 

 

 

Hoyles Super Jumbo Single Deck

 

 

  • If your loved one enjoys writing and receiving letters, make sure you provide them with the materials they need. A couple of pens/pencils, a notepad or some stationary, an address book, return address labels and stamps are all musts. Even if they do not send or receive mail often, it’s good to keep a few writing instruments and some paper on hand just in case.

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous

 

  • An attractive wall calendar that is clearly marked with family birthdays, holidays, visits and important events is a useful addition to a senior’s room. Even if they have difficulty keeping track of time, the staff and their visitors might be able to reference it and remind them of upcoming activities.

 

 

  • A visitors’ book where people can sign in and say what they did together might be a nice way to remember visits and family time. An example of an entry could be: Saturday, April 16: Jennifer & Brad visited with you and took you outside to see the spring blooms and listen to the birds. We drank lemonade on the porch and talked about gardening.

 

 

Important Tips for Personal Items in a Skilled Nursing Facility

 

http://www.chsbuffalo.org/files/images/Images/6-mnf-household-living-room.jpg

 

  • All items must be clearly marked with your loved one’s name. Clothing and other items can easily be mixed up in the laundry, and if the facility has residents with dementia or memory issues, belongings can be accidentally or intentionally stolen or end up in the wrong rooms. Use permanent marker on clothing and fabrics and either purchase or make labels with your loved one’s name and room number so that all other items can be quickly and easily labeled. You can also iron or sew on decorative patches to identify clothing without it appearing like a label. Don’t forget to tag items like glasses, hearing aids, denture cases, personal care items, and durable medical equipment like walkers or wheelchairs, and furniture.
  • Remember that many people will be coming and going in and out of your loved one’s room on a daily basis. This includes caregivers, nurses, housekeeping staff, activities staff, visitors, volunteers and family members. At some point, items will go missing. Hopefully they have just been misplaced and will be returned, but, for this reason, do not bring anything valuable.
  • Some nursing homes take inventory of a new resident’s belongings upon move in. Ask if this is something that your loved one’s facility does, and if it isn’t, then consider creating your own Facility Inventory form to keep track of their things and better determine if something has been lost or stolen. Ask for the Admissions Coordinator or Director of Nursing to sign this inventory on move-in day. If an item goes missing, you are much more likely to have the facility replace it if you have a documented move-in list.

 

Keep in mind that this is not an all-inclusive list. Bring in the basics and see how your loved one fares for the first couple of weeks. Maybe they will need more clothes, an extra lamp on the nightstand so they can read better, or maybe you will realize that they are no longer interested in an activity, so you can take those supplies away and free up some space for other items.

 

This is a challenging time for both you and your loved one. A room in a Skilled Nursing Facility is never going to be comparable to your loved one’s home.

Treat this move as an opportunity to create your loved one’s last home: a comfortable, safe environment filled with happy memories and fun activities.

This is a place where they can thrive and receive the higher level of care they need.

 

 

 

Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories by [Bursack, Carol Bradley]

 

Based on an article by Carol Bradley Bursack

 

Over the span of two decades, author, columnist, consultant and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members.

 

Her experiences inspired her to pen, “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories,” a portable support group book for caregivers.

 

 

 

 

 

Recommended Resources:

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts, questions, tips?  Feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Convincing Your Parents to Transition to Assisted Living

Preparing For Your Elderly Parent to Move In With You

How to Choose Adaptive Clothing

Help for Anxiety in the Elderly

Assisted Living Questions and Answers

All About Hiring In-Home Help

Getting the Right Testing for Dementia

Be Aware of Bone Diseases in the Elderly

Does Prevagen Actually Help Your Memory?

FBI Warning: Seniors Getting Scammed!

Elder Abuse Questions and Answers

Should You Get a Medical Alert System?

My Review of LifeStation Medical Alert System

Dealing With Caregiver Anxiety

The MIND Diet for Fighting Dementia

The No. 1 Alzheimer’s Care Tip 

Alzheimer’s, Elevated Cortisol and Your Genes

Prevent or Slow Dementia by Building Cognitive Reserve

About Me

Create Your Own Blog

 

 

Please help others by sharing this post. Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInDigg thisPin on Pinterest

How Can a Caregiver Take a Vacation?

Taking care of an elderly parent can be draining. Whether you’re the day-to-day caregiver or the child with primary responsibility for emotional and practical support, it’s essential that you get some time off to refresh yourself and stave off burnout.

 

Yet going away can seem impossible.

 

 

There are so many details and worries to deal with as a caregiver that it might seem simpler to just give up on the idea of a vacation.

But there are options.

Anne Albert of Great Barrington, Mass., moved her mother, Rosemary Perry, in with her family after she was diagnosed with rapidly progressing dementia at 78. “It’s a full-time job to get someone with dementia going every day,” says Albert, 42, who had to stop work as a freelance fashion-shoot producer to take care of her mother, a former nurse. To complicate matters, her mother wouldn’t accept help from anyone except Albert. “I was at my wits’ end,” she recalls.

Planning a vacation with her husband and two preteen daughters was a challenge. The answer proved to be an assisted-living residence that offered respite care, one Anne selected after checking out numerous facilities.

“Being somewhere else, my mother had to accept care from someone other than me,” Albert says. “She wasn’t happy about it, but she found some staff people she liked there.”

Late last summer, Albert, her family, and their two dogs spent a relaxing week on Block Island in Rhode Island, where, for the first time in eight months, she was free of caregiving duties.

“You come back with a fresh mind when you’re not so immersed in it all the time,” she says. “It’s easier for me to deal with her and have empathy when I have time for myself.”

 

Who Will Substitute for You?

 

If your parent can take care of himself, you might only need someone to check in during the day, bring over meals or provide transportation while you’re away. A friend, neighbor, or a volunteer from church or synagogue might be willing to do this on a short-term basis. But you will definitely need someone trustworthy to take charge in case of emergency.

Many nursing homes, assisted-living residences, senior communities and post-hospital rehab facilities offer respite services on a short-term basis.

“A family member who will fill in for you, who is as invested as you are in your mom or dad, that’s ideal,” says Maureen Karsen, a social worker at Vanguard Medical Group/Care At Home NJ, a nonprofit that assists the homebound elderly and their caregivers in northern New Jersey.

Start with a family meeting, by phone or Skype if necessary. Get your siblings involved. Talk about your need for respite, what kind of care your parent might need and how to pay for it. Discuss in advance when you will be away and who will be the point person in an emergency. If your parent needs more constant or skilled care, you’ll need other solutions.

In-Home Care Options

Here are three in-home care options to consider:

Ask a relative or sibling to stay over. Best case: your parent will be able to stay at home in familiar surroundings with someone she knows and trusts. Jody Schoenfeld’s mother Ruth Abramson, 97, has lived with her and her family for more than seven years. Abramson, who is in “pretty good shape,” according to her daughter, needs some daytime help but can’t stay alone overnight. When Schoenfeld and her husband go away for a weekend, their 35-year-old son often stays with his grandmother. “We pay him the same as we would pay another caregiver,” notes Schoenfeld, 62, an artist in Chatham, N.Y.

But it’s not always possible to get a relative as a caregiver. A brother or sister might be able call or visit more often during your absence, but feel unequal to the task of full-time care.

Pay your parent’s daytime caregiver to stay over. The advantage here is that your parent is already comfortable with that person. Schoenfeld’s mother needs more of a companion than a caregiver. When Schoenfeld’s son is not available, she hires the woman who drives her mother on shopping errands to stay the night. This past winter, Schoenfeld and her husband spent a week in Amsterdam and two daytime helpers took turns staying overnight with Abramson.

 

 

Hire a licensed home care aide. This is the best option if your parent needs a greater level of care. Ask friends or your local senior services center for a referral to several agencies that provide licensed home care aides. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice website maintains a comprehensive database of more than 33,000 home care and hospice agencies searchable by location.

Be sure to pay the aide to come over for a few hours in advance of your trip so your parent can get to know the caregiver — and so he or she will be familiar with your home and responsibilities. “As much as possible, you’d like your parent to participate in choosing the caregiver,” says Karsen. “You want them to be comfortable and happy.”

Out-of-Home Respite Care

Many nursing homes, assisted-living residences, senior communities and even post-hospital rehabilitation facilities offer out-of-home respite services on a short-term basis, from one day to several weeks.

They provide a range of care depending on your parent’s needs, from help with daily tasks like dressing and eating to skilled nursing — as well as socialization and planned activities. Some have special facilities for Alzheimer’s patients.

Costs generally range from $100 to $250 a night, depending on location. Insurance might cover part of the cost if licensed medical professionals are involved. Ask at the facility what other coverage might be available. This could include veterans’ benefits, Medicaid, foundation grants and funding by state agencies.

In Canada, you may qualify for a publicly funded respite program, or you may have extended medical insurance plan which offers coverage for some or all of this service;  check the Health Canada Respite page your individual extended medical plan.

To find top out-of-home care, ask for referrals from your senior services center or Area Agency on Aging. The ARCH National Respite and Resource Center provides a wealth of information and has a national locator tool to help caregivers and professionals find respite services in their community.

You can also read reviews of various home care services online on YELP, Google and other review sites.

If possible, help parents get adjusted to the environment in advance, says Karsen. “Start with having the person go there during the day and then try an overnight. Make it familiar surroundings for your loved one,” she suggests.

Talk to an Aging Life Care Expert

An aging life care professional or ALCP (formerly called a geriatric care manager) can be a knowledgeable guide to figuring out the various choices — as well as someone to oversee the parent’s care and be the point person in an emergency.

Dianne McGraw, president of the Aging Life Care Association, says: “An ALCP can tell you what the options are, talk about local facilities, make visits to the older person while you’re away, monitor a parent who has a home care aide, and be on call in case of an emergency.” The fee depends on the area of the country. In New Orleans, where McGraw is an aging life care professional with Home Care Solutions of New Orleans, the cost is $125 an hour.

McGraw, who has been in practice for 25 years, recalls, “I was with one of my clients in the emergency room on a New Year’s Eve. The family was away but not out of reach. I wasn’t permitted to make a medical decision, but I was the liaison and representative for the family. We got the family on the phone, and the patient was admitted to the hospital.”

Important Information to Keep on Hand

No matter where your parent stays in your absence, says McGraw, it is essential to organize important information for whoever is providing or overseeing care.

Make a notebook or folder that includes the following:

  • the primary and secondary emergency contacts
  • a list of other family contacts
  • a list of physicians (with their phone numbers and addresses), the preferred hospital and the pharmacy
  • a list of all medications and which doctor prescribed them
  • insurance cards

“Keep everything together so the caregiver can grab it and go if they need to get to the hospital,” McGraw advises.

 

Suggested:

Dealing with Guilt and Anxiety

“Caregivers feel guilty about taking that respite,” says Karsen. Some guilt-producing thoughts include: “Nobody can do it the way I do it,” “Mom is used to me,” or “If something happened I could never forgive myself.” Indeed, a parent can be so resistant to your going away that you don’t pursue it.

When my mother was ill during the last five years of her life, she experienced tremendous anxiety when she knew I was away from home. I remember having a three-day work assignment just a few hours from where she lived and getting dozens of worried phone calls from her, even though she had a full-time live-in aide.

Afterward, the aide recommended that I simply not tell my mother when I went away and I ended up going on a couple of short trips without informing her. I called every day but made excuses for why I couldn’t come over. I disliked the duplicity, but it saved my mother enormous psychological stress. It also saved my sanity.

Even when parents are agreeable, they can still get anxious as the time approaches, Schoenfeld says.

McGraw advises you don’t announce your planned trip three months early. That could create more anxiety.

 

Taking a break from caregiving is a necessity, notes therapist Karen Levine, who practices in Great Barrington, Mass.

“You carry the weight of the responsibility in your heart and mind. Leaving on vacation gives a different message to your brain and heart,” she notes.

 

Adapted from an article by Wendy Schuman for nextavenue

 

Related:

Easy Home First Aid Kit

A Guide to Hiring In-Home Help

Convincing Your Parent to Transition to Assisted Living

Why You Should Use an Infrared Sauna (Often!)

A Guide to the “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order

Make a Living Will Today

Write Your Will Properly

Estate Planning Mistakes

Cost Effective Wills

Start Your Own Blog

Please help others by sharing this post. Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInDigg thisPin on Pinterest

Assisted Living Questions and Answers

 

 

No one wants to move from their home into assisted living. However, in some cases, it is the best option to keep elderly or aging parents safe and healthy.

To determine if it’s time for assisted living, or if your elderly parent can safely remain at home, take a good look at the present housing situation, health status and medical needs.

 

Signs that may indicate it’s time for assisted living:

 

  • Is your parent telling you that he is eating, but you’re seeing food go bad in the refrigerator?

 

 

  • Is your parent falling? To determine the answer, is your parent covering up bruises he or she doesn’t want you to see?

 

  • Is your parent wearing the same clothes when you go to visit? Can they bathe themselves, groom adequately and launder clothes?

 

  • When you look around the house or yard, is it as neat and clean as it used to be?

 

  • Is your aging parent remembering to take medications correctly, with the right dosages and at the right time? Are medications expired?

 

  • Are they able to operate appliances safely? Do they remember to turn appliances off when they are finished cooking?

 

  • Is the home equipped with safety features such as grab bars and emergency response systems?

 

  • Do they have a plan in place to contact help in case of an emergency?

 

  • Are they driving? Should they be driving? Do they have alternate means of transportation?

 

  • Are there stacks of papers and unpaid bills lying around?

 

  • Do they have friends, or are they isolated from others most of the time?

 

  • When you really look at your parent, do you see the bright and vibrant person from years ago, or do you see a more limited person who needs some help one hour a day, or even around the clock?

 

Making the decision to move a parent into assisted living is one of the hardest and most heart-wrenching decisions of your life. But if it keeps your parent healthy and safe and perhaps even happy, then it is probably for the best for the parent, the caregiver and the family.

 

When it is time for a family member to move to assisted living, caregivers and family members have lots of questions.

 

Here are the most common questions that caregivers have about finding assisted living:

 

 

What exactly is an assisted living facility?

 

An assisted living facility is a community for seniors who cannot live independently.

 

One of the reasons that assisted living centers are appealing to many people is that they offer a relatively high level of independence.

 

If your parent is in good health and doesn’t require much assistance with everyday tasks, assisted living is a terrific option. In fact, residing in an assisted living center is similar to having a private apartment, complete with private bathroom and kitchen, but you can rest easy with the knowledge that trained staff is on hand to help your loved one when necessary.

 

Assisted living communities might provide daily living care for bathing, dressing, toileting, grooming, and eating — however be sure to read to contract carefully. In some cases, “personal care” is an additional cost, or an outside home health care agency is required to perform these tasks.

 

 

What’s the difference between assisted living and a nursing home?

 

Assisted living does not provide medical care, such as treatment for specific conditions or diseases like Parkinson’s disease or hospice care. The assisted living facility will assess the elder to decide what kind of care his or her needs require.

 

Nursing homes, on the other hand, are designed to house and assist individuals who have health conditions that require constant monitoring and the availability of medical personnel.

 

 

When is it time to consider assisted living for your parents?

 

An elder should make the move to assisted living if hiring in-home care is not an option. If your parent is constantly confused, forgetful and sometimes wanders, their safety is at risk. If your parent has severe mobility issues and cannot get around the house safely and on their own, they need assistance.

 

Are pets allowed at assisted living?

 

 

Many allow pets. Check with the assisted living facility.

 

How much does assisted living cost and who pays the bill?

 

 

Although the cost for assisted living varies by the facility, the national average is $2,969 per month for a one bedroom apartment with a private bath. The rate is significantly higher for seniors who require Alzheimer’s or dementia care, with costs of $4,270 per month.

 

Residents of assisted living facilities use “private pay” to cover the costs. The way in which they pay is up to the individual. Some people use personal savings, pensions and/or social security to cover the costs. Some people also use long term care insurance. Medicaid and other federal programs do not pay for the costs of assisted living. Some states offer waivers for assisted living for special circumstances. Check with your Area Agency on Aging to find out if your state offers a waiver.

 

An exception to private pay for assisted living is low-income or government subsidized communities. If your parent meets certain income and asset requirements, the government will subsidize the cost of the rent.

 

 

What happens if I run out of money when mom is in assisted living?

 

You have a few options to consider if this situation occurs. First, discuss your situation with the facility. Many times, the facility will be willing to negotiate some kind of agreement. These situations are handled on a case-by-case basis, but they may be able to reduce rent or set up a payment plan to cover past-due payments. Second, check with your state’s agency on aging to find out if there is an available program that may help you. Finally, check to see if your parent has any funds that you may not have tapped into or if they qualify for low-income or government subsidized housing.

 

Unfortunately, residents in assisted living facilities do not have the same protection as those in nursing homes. Although the assisted living facility is required to give a 30 day notice of discharge, the resident is not protected from involuntary discharge. Exhaust all options to prevent this from happening.

 

How can caregivers deal with the guilt of moving a parent to assisted living?

 

 

Guilt is a feeling that many caregivers experience when they move an elderly parent into an assisted living facility. Don’t let guilt get the best of you! Always keep in mind that the move was the best option for your parent.

 

You can still be a caregiver even when your parent moves. For example, you can make sure their apartment has personal touches. You can be a liaison between the assisted living staff and your parent. You still make sure that your parent’s needs are being met. Remember that you are doing your best to make sure that your parent is receiving the best care possible.

 

 

What can mom or dad bring with them to assisted living?

 

Your parent can bring any of their personal items that can fit in the apartment. Your parents can bring furniture, too.

 

 

Can a senior be denied by an assisted living community?

 

It is possible. Once the facility assesses your parent’s health, they will decide if he or she is a good candidate. If your parent needs more care than assisted living provides, they will most likely refer him or her to skilled nursing, also known as a nursing home. Also, you or your parent needs to be able to pay for the cost of assisted living. If you or your parent cannot afford the costs, then the elder can be denied.

 

Many assisted living communities have waiting lists (usually the reputable ones), so, although your parent may not have been denied, it may be awhile before they can actually move into the community.

 

 

How do I know they’re getting good care at assisted living?

 

Find a good assisted living community and make yourself a regular presence in the facility and develop relationships with the staff, if possible. Ask questions. Monitor your elderly loved one’s behavior, what they say, and pay special attention if you notice any bruises or cuts on his or her body.

 

By asking questions and maintaining communication with staff, it is easier to keep tabs on the care your parent is receiving. If you suspect elder abuse or neglect, talk to a supervisor or contact an ombudsman.

 

 

What happens when mom’s Alzheimer’s worsens? Will she have to move?

 

Usually people who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia can stay in assisted living. Again, Alzheimer’s and dementia care is handled on a case-by-case basis. Many assisted living facilities offer a secure unit for residents with limited memories. If you do not want your parent in a memory unit, you can always hire a private duty nurse. Private duty nurses allow seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s to stay in their current apartment, rather than in a secure unit.

 

Check with your parent’s facility to learn its policy. Finally, when seniors can no longer function without 24 hour assistance, the move to a nursing home may be required.

 

 

How big are the rooms? Can couples live together?

 

Room sizes can vary. There are studio apartments and one, two or three bedroom apartments. They have private bathrooms (nursing homes usually have shared bathrooms). Some even have kitchenettes. Couples usually can live together, but it is best to check with the facility first.

 

Can mom or dad socialize with others?

 

 

One of the benefits of an assisted living facility is that there are group activities available for residents. Everything from games to exercise classes to happy hours are offered. However, if your parent does not like to participate in group activities, social interaction can still happen at meal time, since meals are usually eaten in the community dining room.

 

 

 

What if they don’t want to socialize? Is there privacy?

 

If your parent desires complete privacy they have the option of staying in their apartment and even eating meals in their apartment.

 

Sometimes privacy cannot be given though, if your parent needs assistance with certain things. For instance, if your parent wants privacy during meal time, but he or she needs assistance eating, they may opt to eat in their apartment, but a staff member will still need to be with them to assist. However, assisted living communities encourage residents to socialize and engage with other residents. Staying in their room alone at all times can lead to loneliness and depression.

 

What will mom do all day?

 

A vital part of quality of life is social interaction and assisted living facilities aim to provide a means for that interaction. A variety of activities are offered to ensure that your parent has something to do that fits their interests.

 

 

There are many kinds of games offered, such as bingo, board games, puzzles and cards. There are social parties. There is usually some kind of physical exercise activity. There are movie nights. Also, entertainers of all sorts come in, and there are usually one to two different entertainers per week. There may be musical entertainment one night and a magician another night. Good assisted living facilities offer many different activities to suit people’s needs and interests.

 

 

If you are concerned with a facility’s activity schedule, talk to the activities director. They are open for suggestions!

 

 

Are assisted living residents kept on a daily schedule?

 

Yes and no. Elders in assisted living still maintain some sort of independence and can decide which activities in which they wish to participate. For example, if your parent usually plays bingo, he or she can decide not to play one day. They do not have to go with activities schedules. Your parent will be on a daily schedule when it comes to things like meals, medication, bathing, dressing and grooming, and housekeeping.

 

Your parent will eat three meals per day: one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. There is a window of time allowed for certain needs. For instance, if your parent needs assistance with bathing, he or she will know that a staff member comes to their apartment on a certain day between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.

 

What if they don’t remember to take their medications?

 

 

If a resident does not remember to take medication regularly, staff can assist with that. A staff member may call the resident to come to the nursing station to take medication or someone may visit the resident’s apartment and administer the medication. If you feel that your parent needs assistance with remembering medication, talk to the staff at the facility.

 

 

Does mom or dad need a car? How do they get to the doctor?

 

Many facilities allow residents to have cars if they are able to drive. It is not imperative that your parent has a car. Assisted living facilities have transportation available for residents for doctor appointments, shopping, banking needs, etc.

 

 

What happens if an elder has an emergency at assisted living?

 

There are a variety of ways for staff to be informed of an emergency. Many assisted living facilities have emergency pull-cord systems. A pull cord would be placed in every room of a resident’s apartment and if he or she needs assistance, they can pull the cord and the receptionist will be alerted to send for help.

 

Another emergency device is a panic button. Residents may wear a necklace with a panic button that alerts the receptionist that there has been an emergency. Panic buttons are particularly useful for falls.

 

In assisted living, residents are checked on multiple times per day since they need care for different things. Often, if a staff member has not seen a resident for awhile, he or she may pop in the room just to check on them and make sure everything is okay.

 

 

How do I know mom or dad will be safe?

 

Security is available in the form of emergency security and general community security. Guests are required to sign in so that the facility knows who comes in and out of the building. Also, to ensure caregiving safety, staff members must pass a background check prior to being hired.

 

Recommended Reading:

America is getting older. Baby-boomers are confronted with the problem of helping their elderly parents find the best living situation for their old age. It won’t be long before they and their own children will find themselves in the same situation.

One of the most promising retirement alternatives today is the Assisted Living Facility, a residence in which elderly people can live autonomously yet be provided with essential services like food, housekeeping, on-premises medical attention and social activities.

Most of the information available to prospective residents and their adult children comes from the brochures of these very enterprises and a handful of books on the subject. None of these publications were written by a resident of one of these facilities.

Carol Netzer has been a resident in assisted living facilities for over four years. She is also a trained psychologist, naturally inclined to observe human behavior wherever she goes. She is uniquely qualified to write about the difference between a successful and unsuccessful experience for the new resident in assisted living.

This book is a unique combination of descriptions of day-to-day operations in assisted living, personal impressions, and observations of fellow-residents and how they interact. It is sure to be a valuable resource for people who are either considering making the commitment to assisted living or are urging an aging parent to do so. Read the reviews

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Convincing Your Parents to Transition to Assisted Living

Preparing For Your Elderly Parent to Move In

The MIND Diet for Fighting Dementia

First Signs of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s, Elevated Cortisol and Your Genes

Getting the Right Testing for Dementia

The #1 Alzheimer’s Care Tip

Prevent or Slow Dementia by Building Cognitive Reserve

Does Prevagen Actually Help Your Memory?

FBI Warning: Seniors Getting Scammed!

Preserving Alzheimer’s Patients’ Dignity

Stop Alzheimer’s Wandering

Amazon Echo Great Help for Dementia Patients

Dementia-Proof Cooking with Fire Avert

Should You Get a Medical Alert System?

Practical Shoes for the Elderly

About Me and This Blog

Create Your Own Blog

 

Please help others by sharing this post. Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInDigg thisPin on Pinterest

Convincing Your Parents to Transition to Assisted Living

 

 

 

One of the most asked questions regarding senior care involves “the conversation”…or  how to talk with your parents about assisted living.

 

Many caregivers dread having this discussion and with good reason.

 

 

How will mom or dad respond? Are they going to think you are trying to take away their independence? How can you communicate your concerns to them without making them defensive or angry?

 

So how do you have this conversation? Is there a manual, script or rule book to consult to help guide you through this sensitive topic and addresses the dos/don’ts of going about it? Here are some of our thoughts which may help:

 

Conventional wisdom says that we all want to stay in our own homes for as long as we can. That is likely how most of our elders feel; however it’s not always in their best interest to do so.

 

How do we talk with them about the realities and dangers of staying at home once their health is failing, and how do we convince them that a move to an assisted living center could be a very good – and positive option?

 

I believe that part of the problem with convincing elders, and many younger people for that matter, is that people haven’t been inside a modern assisted living center.

 

 

“Old Folk’s Home”

 

Deep inside their gut, they harbor the outdated image of an “old folk’s home.”

 

They consider a move from the family home one more step away from independence and one step closer toward death.

 

They think a move to assisted living signifies to the world that they now have the proverbial “one foot on a banana peel and one foot in the grave.” This image and mindset is stubborn.

 

For many elders, some in-home help and a personal alarm can be enough. They are able to stay in their own home for years with a relatively small amount of help.

 

Then, a spouse dies. The survivor is now truly alone.

 

There’s no one to get help for them should they fall and can’t set off their alarm. There are few opportunities to socialize. Meals become a chore, so they don’t eat well. Memory is failing, and the stove doesn’t get turned off. The single elder, stubbornly clinging to the idea that their familiar home is best, can often be a sad and lonely sight.

 

Contrast this life with living in a good assisted living center, whether it’s a stand-alone building, one connected to a nursing home or a small family operation where only a few seniors board.

 

In any of these situations, seniors can thrive because:

 

  • They don’t have the responsibility of keeping up a home, so they are relieved of the need to hire help or let the house deteriorate.

 

  • They have people around should they need medical help or other assistance.

 

 

  • They have choices of food and snacks with nutritional value and, in most cases, good quality.

 

  • Perhaps most importantly, they make new friends and have an abundance of activities to choose from.

 

 

Okay, you are convinced. You know that you can’t keep providing the constant oversight for your parent that has been taking over your life, and by extension, taking over the lives of your spouse and children. How do you go about convincing your parent that it’s time think about moving to assisted living?

 

  • First, plant the seed. Don’t approach your parent as though you’ve already made the decision for him or her. Just mention that there are options that could make life easier and more fun.

 

 

  • Next, offer a tour of some wonderful local assisted living centers, if he or she is willing, but don’t push it. Drop the subject if necessary, and wait for another day.

 

  • Watch for a “teachable moment.” Did Mom fall, but escape getting badly hurt? Use that as a springboard. You may want to wait a bit, or immediately say something like, “Wow, that was close. Once you’re feeling better, maybe we could go look at the new assisted living center over by the church. We’d both feel better if you had people around.” Go with your gut on the timing, but use the “moment.”

 

  • Again, don’t push unless you consider this an emergency. It’s hard to wait, but you may need to. Wait for, say, a very lonely day when Mom is complaining about how she never sees her friends anymore. Then, gently, try again.

 

  • Check with your friends and friends of your parents. See if any live happily in an assisted living center nearby, or if their parents do. Just like your first day of school when you looked for a friend – any friend – who may be in your class, your parent would feel much better if there were a friend already in the center.

 

  • Even if they won’t know anyone, you can still take your parent to watch a group having fun playing cards or wii bowling.

 

 

  • Show off the social aspects of a good center. Keep it light and don’t force the issue. Tour more than one center, if possible, and ask your parent for input. Big center or small? New and modern or older and cozy?

 

 

  • Show interest in how much privacy a resident has. Ask about bringing furniture from home and how much room there is. Take measuring tapes and visualize, if you can see some rooms, how your parent’s room(s) would look. Show excitement, as you would do if you were helping your parent move to a new apartment, because that’s what you are doing.

 

 

  • Stress the safety aspects

 

  • Stress the fact that there’s no yard cleanup, but flowers can be tended to. There’s no need to call a plumber if the faucet breaks, but there are plenty of things to do if people want. There’s plenty of freedom to be alone, but company when they desire it.

 

Then wait.

 

Let it all sink in.

 

Sorry to say that if you want your parent to make the decision, you could have to wait for another fall or something else before they will be willing to take that step. However, if your family is close-knit, have a meeting with the parent at this point and tell him or her how much better the family would feel if the move were made.

 

Enlist a family friend or spiritual leader to chat with your parent and state the case for this move. Third parties often can make headway when family fails.

 

Be sensitive to your parent’s feelings. Leaving a home where he or she lived with a life partner, raised kids and once had friends among the neighbors is emotionally difficult. Whittling down a lifetime of possessions is hard. Be kind, be sensitive and try to make it be about your parent and not about you.

 

However, if you must – let your parent know that it will help you to know that he or she is safe. Play the “we are worried about your care.” It’s the truth. It’s just easier if you can swing it, to let the parent make the decision.

 

 

Here are some do’s and don’ts for your talk on assisted living:

 

  • Do Laugh – This sounds like an out of context piece of advice, but it is one that is desperately needed during this time. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry; find humor even in the most bizarre circumstances and let it RELAX you. It’s okay to laugh. The last thing you want to do is approach your parents with pent up emotions, expecting the worst and feeling ready for combat. Instead, lighten up! Follow your loved one’s lead and calmly let it guide the conversation.

 

  • Don’t Judge – Don’t use the fact that you and your parent(s) may not have gotten along in your youth to force the idea of alternative care upon them. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were in their position (some day you will be!).  Leave your judgment at the door and go in with an open mind. Be prepared to accept your loved one’s choices. Support them in the decisions they make.

 

  • Do Have Empathy – The only way you’re going to know exactly how your parents are feeling is if you could crawl into their brain and sense their emotions. The next best way is to actively listen to their fears and concerns, not speaking but focusing on their message; putting your emotions aside. Also, consider that your parents may already be receptive to this change and merely want to use this forum to be heard.

 

  • Don’t Go into the Talk Unprepared – If for all of life’s challenging moments you had access to a script that could magically smooth away the bumps in the road, then moments like these would be predictable and the outcomes pleasant. But you don’t. The closest thing to a script is preparation.

 

Be ready to offer information on:

 

  • Assisted living communities in your neighborhood and the maintenance-free lifestlye that is offered

 

  • How the senior care services can make life easier for both of you and meet your love one’s changing  needs

 

  • What assisted living is and is not (it’s not a nursing home!)

 

  • How you will continue to be involved and support them

 

  • The peace of mind you both can enjoy

 

Last, but not least have a professional guide you through the process if at some point it becomes too overwhelming, even with siblings by your side.

 

Remember, you never had a dress-rehearsal for this role, so be easy on yourself and root for the best outcome!

Key Takeaways:

 

  • One of the most common questions caregivers have is how to talk with their loved one(s) about assisted living.
  • The next most common question is: Is there a manual or rule book to consult that handles this sensitive topic?
  • Try to lighten up before the talk! Follow your loved one’s lead and calmly let it guide the conversation.
  • Regardless of your past relationship with your parent(s) or loved one, don’t judge them. Be prepared to accept and support their choices.
  • Don’t go into the talk unprepared; be ready to provide all the necessary information about care options that will help put your loved ones at ease.

 

Recommended Reading:

 

 

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Help for Anxiety in the Elderly

Assisted Living Questions and Answers

All About Hiring In-Home Help

Gifts for Nursing Home Residents

Getting the Right Testing for Dementia

Be Aware of Bone Diseases in the Elderly

Does Prevagen Actually Help Your Memory?

FBI Warning: Seniors Getting Scammed!

Elder Abuse Questions and Answers

Should You Get a Medical Alert System?

My Review of LifeStation Medical Alert System

Melatonin Helps With Sundowning and Other Sleep Disorders

Dealing With Caregiver Anxiety

The MIND Diet for Fighting Dementia

The No. 1 Alzheimer’s Care Tip 

Alzheimer’s, Elevated Cortisol and Your Genes

Prevent or Slow Dementia by Building Cognitive Reserve

About Me

Create Your Own Blog

Please help others by sharing this post. Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInDigg thisPin on Pinterest