For many families, the decision to hire in home care (or other types of senior care) can come rather quickly or unexpectedly. Like most things, it’s best to plan ahead and anticipate what future needs your loved ones may have. Certain pieces of information, like whether a parent has a will, certain medication needs, do-not-resuscitate orders and other important documents, can help a family be prepared for all sorts of scenarios. Unfortunately, sometimes an elderly parent or spouse is rendered incapable rather suddenly. In these situations, it can be hard to make decisions about health care, finances, and other life factors.
In this light, we highly encourage families to have open discussion about an elderly parent’s wishes and desires should something happen. This is especially important if there is family history of diseases that can affect a person’s cognitive ability, such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons or dementia. While it may be difficult or awkward to discuss end-of-life or quality-of-life questions with a beloved parent or spouse, it’s much preferable to making last-minute decision with little context. Read this blog to get some tips on initiating a comprehensive talk with an elderly parent...as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! In the meantime, let’s discuss just the financial aspect of future planning...what information do you need access to if you need to make decisions for a beloved elder?
- Where are important documents kept? Depending on your parent’s generation, important things like wills, testaments, cash, or other documents may be kept in a safe box, at a bank, in a drawer, or even under a mattress! Knowing where these important documents are is especially important if an elderly parent or loved one is a widow or widower.
- Does your loved one have a Power of Attorney (POA)? There are many types of POA, such as general, specific, durable, and more. Basically, these are legal documents that allow a person to make decisions on another person’s behalf. This sort of legal authorization is required for situations like health care decisions, financial decisions, and a specific POA can be crafted for just about anything. Having a POA in place is very important if a person is suddenly rendered incapable, or begins to lose cognitive function quickly.
- How are they paying bills, and what are their monthly expenses? When health becomes an issue and diverts attention away from other matters, things like bills may start piling up and creating a mountain of debt. Avoid this mess by having a thorough conversation with your loved one in advance of any potential issues. Simply knowing which bills need to be paid manually vice automatically is a head start.
Are you aware of different types of senior care should a loved one be rendered incapable?
In addition to helping a family member get back on their feet with financial decisions, ensuring they have proper and appropriate care is something else you can assist with. There are many resources for caregivers available, but it’s important to have a general idea about what’s available for senior care. Here is a quick breakdown of different types of care (read here to learn about comparing costs for each of these):
- Adult Day Care: ADCs are exactly what they sound like - a place for elderly adults to get together for mental and social stimulation during working hours. This also offers caregivers a brief respite from caretaking duties, which is beneficial to both parties. The primary purpose of an adult day care is not custodial or medical care, but providing an engaging, healthy environment for seniors to get together.
- Homemaking Services: Homemaking services are when someone assists an elderly patient with “hands off” tasks like meal preparation, running errands, and housekeeping. This type of service is appropriate for someone who is still capable of living in their own home, but needs help with tasks in order to maintain as much of their independence as possible.
- In Home Care / Home Health Aides: In Home Care shares some characteristics with homemaking services, but with the added benefit of gentle hands-on care. These typically include activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, and more. Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses additionally offers medication management, transportation to and from appointments, and focuses on safety in the home, and a whole host of other services. Please visit our customer testimonial page to see how we’ve done!
- Registered Nurse Geriatric Care Management: Geriatric Care Managers plan and coordinate care of elderly individuals to meet short- and long-term care needs and improve quality of life. Geriatric Care Managers can also implement a thorough and professional nursing assessment, complete a comprehensive care plan and update it regularly. Geriatric Care Managers also assist with care after recent hospitalization or a new diagnosis. To learn more about this service, click here.
- Assisted Living Facilities: These are residential centers or communities where seniors have access to custodial care. People in assisted living facilities do not require the same level of care as those in nursing homes, but generally need help with ADLs and other tasks. Assisted living facilities are differentiated from In Home Care because the client is no longer living in their own home, but the level of care is roughly the same.
- Nursing Home: Nursing homes typically offer the highest level of care outside of a hospital setting. Clients live at the facility full-time, in a variety of settings (private versus shared rooms and bathrooms, etc). Nursing homes are differentiated from other types of senior care in that medical personnel and equipment are on premises, usually available 24 hours a day, and this is in addition to receiving custodial care. While most moves to a nursing home are permanent, they can also be appropriate for short-term, rehabilitative stays.
To summarize, there are many types of senior care, and any one of the above (or a combination) may be appropriate for your loved one. But senior care decisions are not the only way you can help elderly parents or relatives...you can also have a positive impact on their financial well-being by being prepared and getting informed early. By initiating discussion with loved ones before something unexpected happens, it’s possible to smooth the transition into a new chapter.