Any situation involving a senior and the analysis of the best senior living option for him/her is going to be fraught with emotion. That is why you need to take extreme caution that your sources of senior living information is reliable. Occasionally, I’ll hear a client object to a certain long-term care community that I present among options. The client will say something like, “Oh, my cousin had a terrible experience there 30 years ago!” Please bear in mind that organizations and their philosophies change over time, as do their staffs, and most importantly the Administrator. Or, someone may tell me, “My friend had a big problem at that place!” Please be certain you get the specifics of what the big problem was. Many times, relatives of the senior may be to blame, as they might not comply with the requests of the long-term care community, or their expectations are too high. For example, I once had clients tell me they expected the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) at their father’s nursing home to sit down and play a hand of cards with him. This is not a reasonable request when many nursing homes are understaffed.
My clients were two siblings of a relative who had a terminal illness. Both siblings lived out of state. The relative had hit a plateau with physical therapy and was due to be released from the hospital in several days. The siblings both lived out of town and were grappling with whether to send the sibling home with non-medical home care and hospice care or to admit her to a long-term care community, with hospice care. While we were in the midst of the consultation, I learned that their friend, a retired medical professional, would be joining us.
I had begun the consultation before learning of the medical person’s arrival and had made a recommendation that the sibling be taken home with non-medical home care and hospice. Those were the patient’s wishes. The retired medical professional arrived mid consultation and interjected the opinion that the patient should be taken to a nursing home. The reason? The medical professional once had a bad experience with a non-medical home care agency that had cared for a loved one. I asked for examples of specific problems. The response was that the caregiver was unreliable because their kid was always getting sick. I responded by noting that the agencies I recommend always have a back up caregiving plan if a staff member calls in sick. “Oh, they always tell you that!” was the response. I said “The agencies I use mean it!”
The retired professional said, “BLANK would be way too overwhelmed if she returned home and realized they could not function like they did before. Besides, at a nursing home, BLANK would be in a hospital bed with railings that would keep her from falling if need be.” I explained to the retired professional that the use of bed rails had been abandoned at nursing homes unless they were determined as being the Least Restrictive Method of keeping a person safe. The patient did not have issues with falling, and I explained that other safety methods could be employed instead. Moreover, it is certainly possible nowadays to purchase or rent an adjustable bed, with railings, for home use.
In this case, a family meant well when it invited a retired family friend to “weigh in” with some opinions on senior care. However, that individual’s opinions were based on personal anecdotes and out-of-date knowledge. ADSLA aims to provide the latest and most detailed and reliable data on all the communities we visit and assess. With evidence as well as expertise comes advice you can trust.