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When Transitioning A Loved One To Long Term Care Be Cautious Of What You Promise

Whether you are moving your loved one into a high end assisted living community or a nursing home that will eventually accept public aid, it is mostly a heartbreaking event that is stressful for the senior and their family. Because it is such an emotional event, you need to be careful with what you promise to your loved ones who are lucid. Please read the following Real Life Story and you will understand what I mean.

REAL LIFE STORY I was hired to coordinate the transfer of and elderly loved who had children in the south suburban Cook county area of Illinois and a child living out of state. They had filed an application at one the supportive living communities. They had experienced some communication problems with regard to the admission and asked me to step in and expedite the process.

I always do an assessment of every senior that I place. When I went to conduct the assessment, I found the senior was not appropriate for supportive living. Here is a quick review of the type of care the supportive living program provides:

In general terms, supportive living is a form of assisted living that is supported by Medicaid. Medicaid is the Federal program administered by each state that provides financial support for the elderly who cannot pay for long term care. The supportive living program provides stand by assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, walking and eating) that a loved one would receive in an assisted living program. However, I emphasize these programs are not appropriate for individuals who need a higher level of assistance. For instance, the loved one needs to be able to ambulate to the meals and activities, not be transported in a wheelchair. They will receive standby assistance with a shower, meaning someone will hand them the soap and help them wash an area the senior has difficulty reaching but won’t give the person a full shower.

This senior was unable to walk when asked. Assistance was needed with transferring on and off the toilet, and a full shower assistance was necessary. I informed the child that the senior was not supportive living material. I was told that the supportive living community had not even assessed the senior via medical records or face to face. Nor had they discouraged the daughter from sending in a check in order to reserve a room.

It is a good thing that the family asked me to step in when they did. The senior had just enough money (about a year’s worth of private pay) to enter a decent nursing home . I quickly made some recommendations and sent the daughter on some tours. But, I happened to mention that senior’s level of care would require entrance to a nursing home and not a supportive living community. The aesthetics and atmosphere between the supportive living and nursing care communities would be very different.

The child returned from a tour in tears stating that although the community I had recommended was clean, it had an institutional feel, not the homey atmosphere and private apartment that had been promised to her loved one.

What is the moral of the story? You need to be cautious of what you promise to a loved one, and be clear on the differences in levels of care plus the accommodations they offer. Try and listen when you are under duress, and do not practice selective perception. As a senior living advisor, I can assist you and your loved ones with assessing the right level of care, accommodations, and initiating difficult conversations.