Many times our aging parents tell us they want to remain in the comfort of their own homes. As loving children, we hope to carry out their wishes. At the same time, we may increasingly have concerns over whether it’s really possible. Perhaps Dad has fallen several times, or you’ve had numerous trips to the ER with Mom. You might jump every time the phone rings. The management of caring for a parent at home can be a 24/7 job. Even if you’ve brought in home care to assist, you might wonder if they really need a care facility. How do we know when home care isn’t enough?
Here are a couple stories of families who had the same question. You’ll see how they benefited from an aging life care manager’s assessment and assistance. If you have such concerns, give us a call to find out if we might be able to help your family too.
Concerned about Mom’s Worsening Confusion
Mom had been living at home alone since Dad died many years ago. She had a strong community and loved playing bridge with neighbors. However, at one point they “confronted” me saying they didn’t want her to come to bridge anymore. They also stated I should “do something about her”. Apparently, she was getting more and more forgetful and unable to follow the game. They explained she was always wearing the same clothes and didn’t appear to bathe. When I visited, I found her bills past due and a huge stack of unopened mail. Her pills were in a pile on the counter, with a few expired bottles.
I’d hired a companion to help Mom a bit. She was mainly a housekeeper and she’d kept Mom’s house fairly tidy. However, with this level of confusion and disarray, I figured it was time to start looking into an Assisted Living Facility. So, we contacted EasyLiving at the recommendation of Mom’s lawyer. They set up a care management assessment and I met the care manager over at Mom’s house.
Relief at Knowing the Source of the Problem and Solutions
After a thorough evaluation, the care manager came up with a plan that would address Mom’s needs while keeping her safe at home. Interestingly, she identified the likely source of Mom’s confusion as medication mixups. She explained that since it had come on so suddenly, it was unlikely to be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s. After investigating the medications and talking to her doctors, it seemed much of Mom’s troubles could stem from the medications. Our care manager set up a weekly nursing visit to fill the new electronic pill machine she recommended. It sounded an alarm when it was time to take her pills and retracted them if she hadn’t taken them in time, while keeping track of any missed dosages.
She also convinced Mom to have home care services a bit more often, and from a qualified home health aide. The caregiver helped her a bit with hygiene and kept an eye on things. Over time, Mom was doing much better thanks to the medications being managed. She didn’t actually need round-the-clock care, just a bit of extra home care support.
Additionally, I hired the care manager to do regular visits to monitor progress. She would also attend doctor’s appointments and get Mom’s medical needs coordinated. Mom’s various ailments led to her seeing all kinds of specialists, with no one really understanding what was happening. Once everything was well managed, Mom’s memory and overall health improved. She was able to get back to her normal activities. Additionally, the care manager set up transportation for her so she wouldn’t have to rely on friends for rides. Mom enjoyed her new found freedom and I enjoyed peace of mind.
Most importantly, throughout this process the care manager worked patiently with Mom on initiating these changes. She got to know Mom’s personality and how to approach her. Mom never felt forced into anything, but actually felt empowered to do things so she could stay independent. The care manager also knew how to time things and not overwhelm Mom.
Mom stayed in her home with the support of the care manager and “care team” for several more years. She didn’t have unlimited resources so the care manager also helped us save money.
Dad’s Fallen and Can’t Get Up
It seemed like I was receiving a call every other week that Dad was being rushed to the ER. He had a series of falls, which necessitated emergency personnel coming to help him up. The injuries were getting worse. And, then he got sick from eating spoiled food. Additionally, with all his medical conditions he seemed prone to any illness that might be going around and was often weak. With all this, we hired home caregivers to come in to cook his meals and stay with him most days. Unfortunately, it seemed he would need more help and we couldn’t figure out if it was possible with home care.
We decided it was time to bring in an expert to help us understand the extent of Dad’s needs and our options. We all met together to discuss the history and current situation. She visited Dad on a couple occasions, spoke to me and his caregivers, and pulled together his medical information. We discussed concerns I had over Dad’s ability to continue paying for home care services.
Home Care or ALF? Understanding the Pros and Cons for Dad
She explained that while he could stay at home, he’d probably need 24-hour home care for now. This could possibly be reduced with some suggestions she made once he’d been stabilized. But, Dad would likely need a high level of home care moving forward.
So, she also presented us with Assisted Living alternatives. Dad would likely be eligible for a program through the VA to help with costs. We decided to go with her to visit the suggested ALFs. One of Dad’s old neighbors lived in one and we arranged to have lunch with him on a visit. Though Dad was reluctant, his conversations with the care manager and his friend had given him a clear picture of things moving forward. He began to realize he’d be more in control if he made some proactive decisions now. And, he saw some other advantages to life in an ALF such as the convenience and activities. So, he decided to make the move. I was so relieved, as even with financial support the care manager would help us with, Dad’s money wouldn’t have lasted long at home.
The care manager arranged the additional home care Dad needed to stay safe as we planned the transition. We were able to proceed with the move at Dad’s pace. I enlisted the care manager to help with many tasks, so it wasn’t too stressful. And, she managed the paperwork and applying for the financial assistance so I could spend time with Dad packing and getting rid of things.
The whole move went smoother than I could have imagined. I had no doubt it was the right decision, and fortunately Dad felt the same way. It was a stressful time as a caregiver and my main regret is not seeking some advice earlier.
Wondering whether home care will be enough to keep your parent safe?
Get an assessment and advice from an independent expert.