Choices, Choices, Choices, and More Choices

In considering care for older people, knowing your choices is crucial.It’s not uncommon for caregivers to call the office in search of advice for taking care of their elderly parents.  Because Right at Home utilizes two licensed social workers to manage client care, caregivers know there’s someone knowledgeable and helpful at their fingertips.  Julie shares a conversation she recently had with one long-time caregiver, which she thought would be helpful to others:

“I didn’t know there were so many choices,” Pamela said at the end of our conversation.  Pamela is facing some decisions about her own mother and came to me for some perspective.  In our conversation, she told me about the severe arthritis in her mother’s hands.  It was so painful, she was struggling to function well in her own home.

Pamela’s initial reaction—as so many people have when facing difficult senior life transitions—was that perhaps it was time for her mom to move to assisted living.

Her mother’s arthritis seemed to be the primary concern, so I presented some other options to contemplate.   We talked about getting her a physical and an occupational therapy evaluation, plus an evaluation at a pain clinic to see if there were any options for reducing the pain.  Perhaps, I shared with her, there might be some water therapy that could be of assistance.  I also suggested she contact the Arthritis Foundation to pick their brains about medication options, side effects, and support groups.

In discussing the situation, it became apparent that if some of the pain issues were resolved, remaining at home, at least for now, would be the best option (and her mother’s preference).   Since assisted living can cost upwards of $4500 a month, we discussed the costs of senior home assistance services that might allow her to stay at home for less than that.

To make sure she had all the resources she needed, I gave Pamela some information on assisted living facilities in the area and suggested the important questions she will want to ask when investigating the right facility for her mom.  I also suggested that if assisted living is the route she wants to take, she should start getting on waiting lists to make sure a room opens up in time.

Nobody becomes an expert in senior care until they’ve walked the road.  As you contemplate options for your parents and other elderly family members, be aware that there are, indeed, a myriad of choices available to you.  You may know of one option, but there may be a half-dozen other options better suited to your parents’ needs.

Julie Ellingson, LSW

October 10, 2011

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