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The Choice of A Senior Living Community Should Reflect A Loved One’s Preferences And Not Necessarily Yours

I am usually hired by the child of a senior who engages my services and entrusts their loved one’s placement or geriatric care management to me. The child often lives out of state. I would like to share a, “Real LIfe Story,” that not only emphasizes the point in the title, but stirred a deep appreciation for how tirelessly the paid and family caregivers must work.

My client is the child of an 86 year old senior. The child lived out of state and hired me to find permanent placement in a nursing home for the parent. The senior was currently completing some short-term rehabilitation under Medicare. The community normally had a waiting list for its long term care beds. The child asked me to find three communities that were within a certain location parameter so that the other sibling and family members. It was also to be of a certain religious affiliation.

As part of my services, I always complete an assessment of the senior’s medical needs, financial realities, and the quality of life factors that are important to the individual. When I met with the parent, I was happy to greet an individual who was nicely dressed and groomed. I was fortunate enough to observe the senior during physical therapy. I was able to assess that the appropriate level of care would be intermediate nursing care. It was also a wonderful surprise that the senior expressed the wish not to return home. Instead, the senior wished to participate in the social activities offered at the community. However, I noticed that as the conversation progressed that the same question was asked of me six times during a ten minute period, which indicated there were some issues with dementia.

I was able to identify three nursing homes that fit the child’s stipulations. One of them was much better aesthetically than the other two and served a higher quality of food. After taking the tours, the child chose the high end community for the parent and asked me to escort the senior on the tours.

I do not own transportation that is wheel chair accessible. So, I had to arrange for a Medivan to transport us to and from the tour. I arrived 20 minutes early to see that the senior was prepared for the trip. I had to be certain the right medications were administered before the trip and take snacks in case the senior’s blood sugar got low. The senior and I were also deluged with questions from the other residents about, “where we were going.” Although we were downstairs on time to board the van, its arrival was 40 minutes late. In the meantime, my client asked me over 5 times if the people at the ambulance company knew we were waiting for them. When the van finally arrived and we began the trip, I noticed the driver was taking a route that was much longer than one I used and had to correct her. During the trip, which was 40 minutes long, my client expressed the fact that the community was too far for the family members to visit and became agitated. She showed very little interest during the tour due to the distance. I called the ambulance company for our return trip and was told that a van wouldn’t be available for 90 minutes. We were given a complimentary lunch from an extensive menu which helped to pass the time.

After lunch was finished, my client expressed the need to use the bathroom. When I asked if one of the Certified Nurse Assistants could help her, I was told that the nursing home staff couldn’t help a visitor. I had to provide standby assistance in the bathroom with my client, an activity that my insurance covers.

During the return trip, the senior turned to me and said, “Please do not be offended with what I am going to tell you since you worked so heard at this search. This place is too fancy for me and so is the food. And, I know my son was only trying to find the best place for me. But, I am a person of very simple needs. I the food, activities, and other residents and I want to stay there.”Our ride in the van ended with the driver hitting a curb outside the nursing home. Fortunately, nothing happened
I called the child and he was flabbergasted that his Mom wanted to remain there. But, I was told to make the arrangements. At this time, long term beds were available.The bottom line is this…Just because a community seems like a place you would like to move doesn’t mean that is true of your parents preferences. I was exhausted physically from pushing the wheel chair. I was emotionally exhausted from trying to keep my client happy. The whole experience reminded me to always appreciate the caregivers who take care of our loved ones.

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