People from all kinds of careers are jumping in. it's almost as if you can hear the battle cry, "The Boomers are coming! The Boomers are coming!" New assisted living facilities are being built, new flavors of memory care communities are cropping up every month, and new search tools and online pages show up every day on the web, offering a new way to find the care that you need for your loved one.
Kinda overwhelming, isn't it?
Technology affords us convenience at every turn. You can make a deposit without a deposit slip. You can order anything you need online, from socks to vehicles to legal advice. You can pay bills, buy tickets, and book flights. You can even study the progression of Alzheimer's disease and double check the spelling of osteoporosis. But when it comes to finding the care that you need for your loved one, photos and images and prices on a screen cannot give you what you need most - the personal insight of an experienced senior advocate.
The process of finding care for your mother is personal. Period. Deeply personal and close to your heart. And no matter what listing or website you use for care options, most family members also want to talk to someone - to their neighbor, their pastor, or a friend - about what THEY did when THEIR mom or dad needed help as they were aging.
Senior advocates come in different varieties. Geriatric care managers, social workers, or - like me - Certified Senior Advisor and placement consultant. I often get calls from families that have chosen and facility because of location and financial reasons, perhaps, only to place their loved one and realize that there is so much more to finding a care solution for their mother than a zip code and a dollar amount.
Enter the locator.
A big part of the expertise of a good locator is personal, hands own experience with the properties in their network. At Assisted Living Locators, weekly visits into properties within our network is essential. Learning the culture and atmosphere of these communities is the only way to truly know how to match an aging senior with a care solution that meets all of their needs.
A good locator will be listening as they talk to the family member about the care needs of their loved one. What is going on with your loved one physically? What is their cognitive function? What price point is necessary, and what part of town in most convenient? That is just the beginning.
The care home three blocks from you might look perfect . . .the price is good, the location is excellent, and look! They have an opening! But mom is very social, and has no cognitive deficiency, and being in a care home with only four other ladies, three of whom have dementia - simply isn't a good fit for your mother.
Or perhaps dad needs lots of care and does have dementia, and there's a large memory care community just down the street from where you work. Does the ratio of caregiver to resident allow your father to be seen every few minutes, rather than every few hours?
What is the story of the senior? What was their life like before they needed help with daily activities of living? Can a small care home provide the mental stimulation your loved one needs to continue to thrive? Maybe the money is the primary deciding factor, but Aunt Sally is so social. Maybe a care home with a very social care staff could help to provide some interaction for your parent, if budget constraints won't allow for the activity calendar at the nice assisted living just down the street.
I recently helped with a hospice placement that illustrates this point so perfectly. A family was reeling with the news that their father was terminal, and must be discharged immediately. I got the call on New Year's Day - a holiday, when many places have limited hours, or are closed entirely. This situation was so difficult and filled with emotion for this family. Nothing could be more blessed or personal than a senior's final passage.
I knew what they needed - a warm, intimate setting with a larger room for family and friends to be able to comfort one another and share memories, and say their good-byes, but a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of a larger property.
I called a care home owner in network, recalling a front room, rather removed from the rest of the house. The home was on a quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac in a wonderful neighborhood, with extra room for parking at the end of the street for additional guests, and the chaplain who would be visiting. And it worked wonderfully, and the family was so deeply grateful.
Let a person help with what is deeply personal. Reach out to an advocate. Finding care that fits is too important to leave anything to chance - or a search tool.
Courtesy Alane Roberts
President / Assisted Living Locators Houston