With so many long-term care housing options available, how do you choose what's right for your loved one? That's where a Life Care Planning Law Firm can make all the difference.
When your parents reach a point where you’re concerned about their health and safety, where should they live?
We posed this question to Sandy Tobin, an Elder Care Coordinator with Vincent, Romeo & Rodriguez, a Life Care Planning Law Firm that has been serving clients in the Denver, Colorado area for more than a decade. Sandy’s role on the Life Care Planning team involves assisting families with care-related concerns and guiding families through the many residential decision points during the long-term care journey.
Sandy organizes senior living options into a continuum. Each level of care is progressively more expensive.
Living at Home. Aging at home is a very real possibility for many seniors, thanks to the many medical and non-medical home care service providers available to fill the gaps. Adult day programs and senior centers are also good options. Medicaid home care benefits vary greatly from state to state.
Independent Living. If a mostly healthy senior doesn’t want to live at home or family members are concerned about their safety, an independent living or continuing care retirement community is an option. Services vary state to state but many facilities offer communal meals and activities. Few accept Medicaid.Assisted Living. These facilities vary greatly from state to state, with some offering little in the way of services and others offering extensive assistance with activities of daily living. Few accept Medicaid.
Skilled Nursing Care. Doctors, nurses, and other professionals provide round-the-clock care. Nursing home care is expensive, but it is often the only option for elders on Medicaid.
Watch Out for the Land Mines
What pitfalls await families who don’t have the right guidance when deciding where an elderly loved one will live?
The first is objectivity. “It’s often easier if you can bring in a non-family member who can be objective about the situation,” Sandy said. “Then there’s no baggage. If an unpopular decision must be made, you can always blame the care coordinator.”
The second is the “burden factor.” Most seniors don't want to be a burden to their kids,” she added. “Rather than having a daughter take time off work to research living options, having an elder care coordinator manage the process eliminates that concern.”
A third involves choosing a facility based on inaccurate information. For instance, a family may choose an assisted living facility based on the recommendation of a doctor or a friend, sign the admission paperwork, and move the parent in only to discover that that there’s not enough money to cover the costs and the facility doesn’t accept Medicaid. “This happens all the time,” noted Sandy. “It’s tragic because the senior has to be moved again.”
The fourth is strong emotions. Guilt and fear can make it difficult for family caregivers to take the right actions, which creates unintentional risk. “One family caregiver told me that her mom would never allow an outsider into her house, so they were just having the neighbor check on her,” said Sandy. “This approach often ends badly.”
That’s where Sandy’s expert guidance is invaluable. “My role as is all about prevention,” she added. “If you assess an elder’s needs early on and get the right services, you can minimize and even eliminate risks. When I can get family caregivers past the guilt and fear, seniors get what they need, and the adult children can go back to being kids.”