Geriatric Care: When and Why to Seek Professional Help for Behaviors

Autism Genome Project

Geriatric Care: When and Why to Seek Professional Help for Behaviors

Deciding when and how to care for an aging loved one can be a difficult decision—and a difficult topic to bring up with parents, grandparents, and siblings, especially when mental illness or behavioral issues are a factor. Deciding whether or not to seek professional care can bring up anxieties, resentments, disagreements, guilt, and other negative emotions. Finding the right geriatric care is important, not only for the well-being of your loved one, but also for the emotional well-being of everyone in your family.

How to Select Senior Care

Here are a few questions to ask and steps to take before selecting a senior care service.

Is it the right time? Other than selecting the right care facility, making sure that the timing is right is the most important consideration in the process. Forcing the issue before everyone is ready to make the decision can cause rifts in the family, resentment, and can intensify any feelings of guilt you may already be experiencing, while waiting too long can result in a hurried, less-than-ideal placement. Generally speaking, if your loved one is a danger to self or others, is experiencing an acute psychotic or behavioral episode, or is experiencing dementia, it’s a good idea to force the decision and get your loved one help as quickly as possible, whether or not the timing feels right. An acute care facility such as Havenwood can work to rapidly stabilize your loved one and then reestablish the routines of daily living, providing support and security while giving families more time to make a decision for long-term care.

What kind of support system does my loved one already have in place? Every senior’s situation is different. Perhaps your mother needs some help performing the activities of daily living, but she has several children in town who are willing to help out and a strong network of friends or other support. In a situation like this, hiring a home caregiver one or two days a week may be perfectly sufficient. However, if you are your parent’s only child, if all children live far away, or if your parent requires 24/7 care and monitoring, it is likely time to look for a quality residential senior living facility that can provide adequate care. Remember that it’s OK to seek outside help—no one expects you to do it all on your own and, often, providing care yourself isn’t the best or safest option for your loved one.

What level of care does my loved one require? This question is related to the previous question but with a more specific focus. Once you’ve made the decision to begin to look for outside help, sit down with a pad and a pencil and make a list of all of the services your loved one will need on a daily basis. There are several designated levels of senior care, from senior communities for high-functioning senior residents to assisted living, full-time skilled nursing care, and long-term care for seniors who won’t return to independent living. For instance, Havenwood is a skilled care facility for seniors with significant short-term care needs, such as severe depression. Here is a helpful guide to the various levels of care and the associated costs and concerns. The nonprofit organization, Senior Living, also has lots of helpful resources about how to choose the correct level of care.

How will we pay for senior care services? Of course, everyone wants to provide their loved one with the best possible care—but questions about costs and affordability are important to ask upfront. Most geriatric care facilities accept Medicare and other forms of private insurance for short-term care, but ongoing senior living and other levels of care may require other arrangements. Some retirement plans include stipends for senior care, and some private health insurance includes long-term care insurance. Medicaid is also an option that can make senior care more affordable. Be sure to talk to all family members to find out what resources you have available before paying out-of-pocket.

Final Steps to Take Before Choosing Longer Term Senior Care

In addition to these broad, overarching questions, there are a few steps to follow before choosing geriatric care.

  •      Take a Tour. Nothing provides confidence and peace of mind like seeing a facility for yourself before it’s absolutely necessary. Too often, children are left scrambling to find the right place after a medical emergency, usually based on a list from the discharge nurse, which can leave you feeling unsure of your decision. Instead, take some time when you’re able to tour a few facilities in the area.
  •      Sit in on a Meal. While you’re on the tour, eat lunch or dinner with the residents. Nutrition is important for seniors, so pay attention to presentation, how meal-time is structured, and nutritional content.
  •      Ask about Transitions and Communication. What happens when your loved one needs a greater level of care? Is there a transition plan in place for residents? Will your loved one be able to remain in the same facility or will your loved one have to move to a new wing or a new home? How will the facility contact you in case of an emergency? These are important questions to get answered while on your search.
  •      Learn about Resident Choices. One thing that can truly ease the transition into elder care is still being able to have some control over your own life and being able to personalize your space. Find out in advance if residents have say over things like how they spend their free time or what decorative items they have in their rooms.

The decision to move your parent or loved one into senior care doesn’t have to be guilt-laden or traumatic.. Havenwood[MB1]  is an acute care facility for behaviors that will help with issues that complicate onging care,. Contact us today for more information.