When A Loved One Needs Assistance With Daily Living

While living in a well-run assisted-living or other support of residential living arrangement can provide many positive social, safety and healthcare benefit for patients with declining physical or cognitive abilities, most elderly and disabled individuals dread and resist moving from their home to an assisted living or other supportive care living environment.

When transitioning a patient to an assisted living or other care environment, caregivers often must override and understand what preference by the patient to live independently in order to provide support to patient needs to be safe.

Like the surrender of driving privileges, the loss of choice that results from compulsory relocation to a new living environment for an elderly or disabled person forces the patient concurrently to confront his declining functionality and his declining self-determination.

Recognizing this, caregivers should seek to involve the patient as much as possible in making the new living arrangements.

Talking about the possibility of a future need her assisted living care well in advance at the onset of disabling condition can help.

Planning ahead can help patients and their families to be prepared to pick up a facility where the patient may already have friends for siding will be familiar with the staff or the facility reputation.

Many assisted-living providers also sponsor social or other community out reach events for members of the community living independently.  Others offer daycare or other intermittent care opportunities.  Still others may offer temporary assisted-living or stay arrangements following episodes of chemotherapy or other intensive inpatient care.  Participation in these opportunities for involvement gives a patient an opportunity to try out the facility in their services before the patient actually needs to relocate as well as gives the family and the patient the opportunity to check out the facility before making a choice.

When relocating the patient to an assisted living or other facility, careful planning can help ensure that the patient’s room and other living quarters are as home like as possible.  To the extent that space allows, try to bring to the facility some furniture, photographs and other special possessions that will make the new living space feel more like home.

It often also helps if family members participate in the daily flow of activities such as going to lunch or dinner or participating in social gatherings often on for the first few weeks to help encourage the patient to participate in acclimatize them to the new opportunities and friendships.

The best way to head off problems is to detect issues early and intervene.  Even after the patient as well settled family members and friends should drop by often and at varying times to check on the patient’s physical and emotional status, keep the patient engaged and to check up on the care and service that the patient is receiving.

Family members and friends should learn and watch for signs of abuse or neglect.  Many excellent sources of education and resources are available through state Agency responsible for oversight in care of the aging and disabled like this list of elder neglect warning signs  published by the State of Idaho.

To help safeguard your loved one, make sure you and others with a close relationship to the patient check in on the patient regularly.  Set aside time to check in on the patient as well as to talk to the patient to detect signs of abuse, neglect, deterioration in the patient’s physical, cognitive or emotional status or other signs of possible concern.  Even something so seemingly minor as a recurrent failure at the facility staff timely to assist the patient to make her bed or with other schedule services should be monitored and addressed.  Beyond the actual assistance with the performance of the designated chores, the interactions scheduled with staff to perform these chores are critical monitoring activities for the facility.  Failing to timely perform the services means the facility is not keeping on top of their monitoring and other care duties for the patient and should be addressed.

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Despite an endless stream of well-meaning market and governmental reforms over the past 25 years, the U.S. health care system is in crisis. American patients, their families and other caregivers, their employers, their health benefit programs, their health care providers, the communities and even our federal health care budget increasingly are burdened and overwhelmed by the mounting obstacles to caring for our ill, disabled, and aging citizens within our health care system and the extraordinary expense of maintaining and using that system.

As Congress takes up reform again, it is critical that Americans act to protect their own and their families’ health care and control the financial burdens of health care by getting informed, providing clear and consistent direction to Congress and other reformers and taking other actions to empower and care for themselves and their loved ones within our evolving health care system.

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish licensed to Solutions Law Press, Inc. For information about republication of this or other materials and programs of the author, email the author here.   All rights reserved.