One of the most stressful decisions we may have to make in life is whether or not to move a loved one from the home and into a care setting. It is a stressful and emotional endeavor, even under the best circumstances. We talk to people everyday who are in all different stages of looking for placement. Through these conversations we have developed some pretty simple advice…..…….if you don’t have to, don’t wait until a crisis to place your loved one. Even if you have done your homework and know where they’d be most comfortable, in a crisis, you give up control, and often the opportunity to choose. There is no dignity in going wherever there is a room available.
We feel that there are two major factors in making this decision. First, when you find yourself concerned about safety, it is time to act. That action may be to acquire some in home help through a private duty company, utilize a local adult day care program, or safety can also be a reason to find suitable placement. The second major factor is the person in the caregiver role. When the family caregiver is overwhelmed, becoming sick, burnt out, or feeling out of control, it is time to consider placement. There is plenty of research out there that supports the fact that sometimes the stress of caregiving leads to serious health issues in the caregiver. With no caregiver, again, we move to crisis mode and lose options.
Working with families in these situations brings to light the many dynamics that come into play. Let’s face it, taking away your loved one’s independence is a pretty unpleasant endeavor. It’s hard for us personally to face the situation, and then the thought of the aftermath is scary as well. But I keep coming back to the same thought. “What are you waiting for?” Does something really bad need to happen to get the ball rolling, and where is the dignity in that? Falls, car wrecks and silver alerts are all realities and dangers of aging. Often times, negative family dynamics play a debilitating role in family decision making. It is important to have these issues dealt with prior to decision making time. Elder law attorneys, geriatric care managers and other experts in the field offer mediation services to help get these issues sorted out so that they don’t negatively impact the wellbeing of your loved one.
There are many resources for families during this decision making process. We are available to help families, as is the Alzheimer’s Association, Parkinson’s Foundation, the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging and other private entities such as geriatric care managers and elder law attorneys. Gather information to make the most intelligent decisions possible! It will help your loved one’s quality of life!