Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!
While the holidays can be a time of joy, they are also a time when extended family gatherings may provide us with occasion to notice that an older loved one’s health is deteriorating. As families reunite, celebrate the season, and take stock of the year gone by, they sometimes reflect on the passage of time – and begin to recognize how it might be affecting a senior member.
A sense of fear or worry — exacerbated, perhaps, by the darker winter weather – can then lead families to make rushed and hasty decisions about senior care or senior living options. Later, they hire me when they realize they have made an error.
Here are the top three mistakes that I see family members make:
• They neglect to keep their loved one’s long-term financial realities in mind. Many people make the mistake of selecting a short-term solution, only to find out that it isn’t going to work in the long run. I have seen many choices made on the basis of aesthetics (that is, how an agency or facility looks at first glance) rather than on good quality of care criteria and a plan that will fit the senior’s long-term financial picture.
• The family does not compare the costs of keeping the senior at home with non-medical home care versus a move to a community. Many clients come to me for help after their funds have been depleted on non-medical home care. You will need about a year’s worth of funds to have your loved one admitted to a good nursing home in Illinois. If you have less money than that, the choices are quite limited. (Please be advised that I am not criticizing non-medical home care. It is a wonderful option to be able to stay in one’s own home if one’s health status truly allows it, one obtains the right caregiver, and the plan fits one’s long-term budget. The problem is when seniors or their families fail to think ahead.)
• They fail to prepare for a life-changing crisis that a senior may experience. A sudden illness, a fall, or the loss of a spouse can radically alter a senior’s ability or even desire to live independently at home. No one should live in constant fear for an older relative’s safety – after all, they, too, are mature adults, not minor children – but, at the same time, families need to prepare ahead in order to avoid what I’ll call Crisis-Chaos. A dose of pre-planning can be a pre-emptive strike at major stress and heartache, if, God forbid, the unexpected should actually occur.
So, please keep these three mistakes in mind as you spend time with older relatives this holiday season and perhaps discuss life’s more “thought-provoking” or serious themes. Yet, above all – even as you laugh, cry or marvel at the sense of Aulde Lang Syne – keep a sense of humor!
Andrea Donovan earned a B.A. in Communications/Sociology from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, and an M.B.A. from Loyola University of Chicago. She holds the designation of Care Manager Certified conferred upon her by the National Association Of Certified Care Managers. She was the Admissions/Marketing Director of the St. Andrew Life Center in Niles, Illinois, which is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and provides continuity of care for independent living, assisted living, and intermediate nursing care. Throughout Donovan’s tenure at St. Andrew Life Center, not a single deficiency was found during the State inspections of the intermediate care community. Andrea founded Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors to assist seniors and their families in finding the best possible solutions for their unique situations. She does not accept any sort of commission or “finder’s fees” from the more than 400 senior living communities that she has personally toured and inspected. ADSLA services range from personalized needs assessments to facility searches and evaluation, legal guardianship, and long-term advocacy.
For all of your senior living needs, contact Andrea Donovan at Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors.