With Deepest Love: When to Move a Loved One to a Care Facility
For many, the holidays are a time spent with friends and loved ones. It is a time to reflect on the blessings of the year gone by, and to set goals for the year ahead. As the holiday season winds down, some may be facing a lingering concern about the aging family members that joined them this past holiday season. It could be something as small as a loved one losing track of what they were saying in conversation, or it may be a more significant emotional outburst seemingly out of the blue, or a surprisingly unkempt outfit that caused unease. In today's blog post, we tackle a very common question asked at our practice: "How can we determine whether our loved one would benefit from care at a residential facility?"
While there is no one-size-fits-all exact formula to determine when a family member may benefit from a long term care facility, there are many things that may be helpful to discuss when broaching this conversation with family members. For example, our first question to families seeking our guidance is usually regarding the safety of their loved one. Some relevant questions include:
- Is the individual safe?
- Can he or she navigate the home in which they currently live?
- Is there a concern that the individual may wander from their home and have difficulty finding their way back?
- Are there procedures in place to check on the individual if he/she is living alone? Do these checks occur frequently enough that help would reach the individual in a timely manner if an emergency arose?
- Is he/she driving - have they had recent accidents or forgotten where they parked the car?
We also gather information about the individual's daily independence. Some questions include:
- Can the person shower or bathe independently, or do they require assistance?
- Does the individual have access to clean clothing, and is he or she able to choose appropriate clothing and dress independently?
- Is the individual able to cook a simple meal?
- Can the individual prepare the meal safely? (e.g., cooking meat to an appropriate temperature, remembering to turn off the oven or stove following preparation).
- Who is taking care of the finances in the home?
- Can the person contact the appropriate person in an emergency (e.g., plumber if the pipe burst, emergency services if a fire broke out)?
We also seek to understand the person's current quality of life:
- Is the person able to interact with family or peers on a regular basis (e.g., multiple times per week)?
- If the person is isolated at home, has there been a change to their eating, sleeping, or hygiene practices that may suggest an underlying depression or sadness?
- Is the person engaging in activities, or is he/she sitting in front of a television for the majority of the day?
- If living independently, what is condition of the home? Is it reasonably clean? Have newspapers, mail and magazines seemingly piled up? Does it appear excessively cluttered, or are you concerned your loved one has begun hoarding?
While many of these questions seem clear-cut, we recognize how challenging they can be. Often as individuals age, they prefer to maintain their privacy. This can result in family members being unaware of the state of their loved one's home or the difficulties their love one faces until it has gotten out of hand. We frequently have family members share with us that they didn't know "how bad it was getting" until something more serious occurred.
Your family is not facing these challenges and transitions alone. Dr. Morgan and Dr. Ghilain have worked with countless families facing these questions, and have been able to provide insight and guidance at each step of the way. We consider our patients members of our own "extended family", and therefore we recommend treatments and services that we would recommend to our own loved ones. If you would like to learn more about the evaluation and consultation services we provide, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office at 972-367-5646. We'd be glad to talk further.
From all of us at NPANJ, we wish you a warm and wonderful holiday season, and a Happy New Year!