Finding the best long-term care situation for our loved ones presents a formidable challenge. In fact, it can be emotionally wrenching as well as just downright overwhelming if you’ve never been faced with decisions like this before. There are so many options, and with each of those options comes a million questions and concerns.
Crisis Mode and the Clock is Ticking
Although we may know months in advance that the time is approaching, the fact is we often wait until we’re in crisis mode to take any real action. As painful and difficult as these decisions are bound to be, adding a sense of urgency to the equation only intensifies the predicament. Trust me, I learned that the hard way.
When the time came for us, we had just one week. To further complicate matters, my mom was in the hospital at the time, so it quickly became a fire drill the likes of no other! I had very little experience in dealing with doctors and hospitals, and my familiarity with long-term care was non-existent. At that point we didn’t have the luxury of time to do the kind of research I would have liked, so my contact at A Place for Mom became a fast friend and a trusted advisor. The moral of story – use the resources that are available to you.
Wisdom Through Experience
Now, having several years of experience, there are other questions I would ask, and I would certainly approach the situation differently. First and foremost, don’t wait until the last minute; give yourself some breathing room. It will be much easier to analyze your options and make an educated decision if you have a clear head. Bottom line: as unpleasant as the prospect may seem right now, you’ll be thankful later.
The Internet is one of the best resources available – take advantage of it! Use reputable sites, and look for blogs written by people who have real world experience. Often, the most sage advice comes from those who have walked in your shoes. The beauty of technology is that it allows us to network like never before.
Once you develop a short list, do your homework. Consult with the health department or your local long-term care ombudsman. Put Google to work for you; it’s amazing what you can turn up with just a few searches. How has the facility fared on their periodic state surveys? What is their history with regard to lawsuits? How about formal complaints? If wandering is a concern, how many elopement incidents have they had in the past six months?
Do’s and Don’t’s
As someone who has been through the trials and tribulations of finding the right long-term care for my own mom, there are a few key tips that I can offer.
- DO ask to speak privately to residents and family members.
- DO make unannounced visits at various times throughout the day/evening.
- DON’T assume that extravagant decor and high prices equate to good care. That is simply NOT always the case.
- DO remember that the people you speak with at various facilities are trying to sell you something. Many are wonderful individuals who have a true passion for elder care, but it is always best to err on the side of caution. For them, this is a business deal. For you, it’s the life of your loved one.
- DON’T worry about offending anyone; if it’s on your mind, ASK. Otherwise, you may find yourself regretting it later.
Last but not least, I recommend contacting a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom. While they shouldn’t be your only resource, these folks provide a great starting point. You’ll speak to a local advisor, familiar with the care options in your vicinity.
Because this is their area of expertise, they can help narrow down the best potential options for your loved one’s unique situation, allowing you to focus on screening those top candidates. They’ll even set up appointments and tours for you if desired. Having a sincere, compassionate expert on my side as I muddled through this foreign land of long-term care was absolutely invaluable.
In the end, it all boils down to three little words: Trust Your Gut. Our instincts almost always lead us to the best answer… if we’re just quiet enough to hear them.