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Post-Holiday Worries: Finding Elder Care for a Family Member

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A recent U.S. News & World Report article noted a post-holiday increase in elder care inquiries. During the holiday season, visits with families and loved ones can leave us with “the realization that an aging relative is losing the ability to live independently.” A family expert with the AARP noted that the spike in these inquiries often begins in January and can extend into the following winter months. In fact, seniorhomes.com, a website providing resources for senior living in your area, reported a 58% jump in elder care inquiries just after the holidays came to a close.

Although an assisted-living facility or nursing home may not always be the immediate solution to the problems that your loved one faces, you want to make sure you’re doing your due diligence. Oftentimes family members don’t know their options, and they are quick to assume that an elderly loved one in need of some assistance has no choice but to move out of their home and into a residential facility, such as an assisted-living facility or nursing home. If the post-holiday season has left you wondering if your elderly parent may need additional care, there are some important “Dos” and “Don’ts” to follow.

Familiarize Yourself with Local Elder Services

News stories concerning elder abuse arise frequently. How can you make sure you’re taking the right steps? Begin by looking into local services that can help your parent or close loved one live independently for as long as they are able. Typically, all adults between 65-70 years old should schedule complete physical exams on an annual basis. If you have special concerns, however, you may want to schedule an appointment with a geriatrician for an assessment before you broach the subject of assisted-living with your loved one. In this type of assessment, the geriatrician will perform both physical and mental examinations, taking approximately two hours. If possible, accompany your elderly relative to his or her appointment, and if you have specific medical issues you’d like to discuss, take a checklist with you and ask the geriatrician.

Communicate with your Elderly Loved One

If your geriatrician makes a recommendation for nursing home care, the most important first step is to communicate with your elderly parent. Sharon Allison-Ottey, an internal medicine specialist who is trained in geriatrics, emphasizes the importance of involving your loved one in the decision-making process. “The elderly still want to have a sense of independence,” she explains. “It is still their lives.”

Choosing the Right Nursing Home

In terms of elderly living assistance, there are various levels of care. If an assessment from your elderly parent’s geriatrician suggests that she or he may require nursing home care, you want to be sure that you’re taking the proper steps for choosing the best facility. According to seniorhomes.com, your first step is to create a list of nursing facilities in which you’re interested. After making the list, compare the nursing facilities. Nursing Home Compare is a user-friendly tool for making comparisons among facilities. Simply enter the zip code in which you’re searching for a nursing home, or provide the name of the facility. After narrowing down a list, arrange visits with each facility before making a final decision. If you have questions concerning nursing home law, be sure to contact a licensed elder law attorney who can assist you.

Related Blog Posts:
How to Evaluate a Residential Care or Assisted Living Facility
A Place for Mom: Finding the Proper Placement for Your Elderly Loved One

[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]