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Denial and Lack Of Expertise With Senior Living Options Can Lead To Limited Choices

Sometimes you must face the fact that you are in denial about your senior loved one’s needs. I am sharing the following Real Life Story with you to emphasize that point.

My clients are a family of ten children who attended my, “Senior Living Myths Unmasked,” presentation over three years ago. Their elderly Mother was living alone in a large home. At that time, she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia. The children were divided in their opinions on whether to keep their Mother at home with a caregiver or seek placement in a long term care community. After countless conversations with them, they decided to hire a caregiver on a part-time basis.

The family contacted me recently to advise them on their Mother’s situation which had changed dramatically. The caregiver was helping their mother on a full-time basis. Her finances had changed drastically. Reportedly, she was down to her last $30,000. She owed no money on her home, but the house was not on the market to be sold.

Upon my assessment of their Mother, I found her totally ambulatory and able to complete her activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, transferring, walking, toileting, and eating). However, she would not the caregiver to assist her with bathing, and had not taken a full shower in over three years. The caregiver assumed all of the housekeeping and meal preparation duties. I was also informed that at times, she couldn’t remember or recognize her children. She had wandered out into the front yard and became confused as to where she was. A neighbor whom the children suspected of exploiting her financially walked her around the block and eventually led her back into the house. My question was, “Where was the caregiver when all of this was happening?” I also reviewed an old neuropsychological examination that stated the children were in denial about their mother’s memory issues and could not grasp that fact.

Several of her daughters had taken matters into their own hands and decided to explore the possibility of the Supportive Living Program for her. In very general terms, the Supportive Living Program provides help for individuals who need standby assistance with their activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, eating, and walking). It is supported through the Medicaid program, which provides funding for those seniors who cannot pay for long term care. The program is a wonderful alternative for those seniors who need some help with their activities of daily living but are not yet ready for admission to a nursing home. It provides care that is similar to assisted living programs, which are all private pay. However, the daughters did not understand that there are 140 Supportive Living communities in the State of Illinois, and they stand alone as their own entities. They had toured countless numbers of private pay facilities thinking that all communities offered the Supportive Living component. As a senior living advisor, I made them aware that only certain Supportive Living Communities offered special units that are equipped to handle residents with dementia. These units provide staff members who are trained to deal with the behaviors associated with dementia, structured activities required by residents with dementia, and most importantly, a secured unit for those residents who wander. I quickly made arrangements for the daughters to tour the communities that had the appropriate memory care for their Mother.

After the daughters completed the tours, the Admissions people told me that the daughters still didn’t understand why their Mother needed to be in a memory unit. They admitted to me that they wanted their Mother to be in the regular assisted living area and were insulted when the staff wouldn’t show it to them.

In the meantime, the clock is running out on this family. Many of the Supportive Living Communities like to see their residents pay privately for a while to cover the time period while the Medicaid application is being filed and approved. This could be anywhere from several months to a year or so. With only $30,000 left, I hope this family sees the light.

For all of your senior living needs, please contact Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors.