by Elizabeth Beutel, MBA, RD, CRCFA; Director of Sales and Marketing, Presbyterian Communities of SC
We all think “it’s not going to happen to me.” But, every day thousands of older adults experience a day that does change everything. Broken bones from falls; hospitalizations due to taking medication incorrectly; the passing of a spouse who may have been the primary caregiver; all happen more frequently than any of us want to believe.
When considering retirement living options, many older adults procrastinate and say “I’ll make a change when I have a need; I’m not ready yet.” As a senior advisor, I have met with many people during very challenging times where needs are great and options have suddenly become very slim.
In a panic, people call unprepared and misinformed. Choices have been taken away. While they may end up moving to a community, the change happens when they are not feeling well because of illness, injury, or depression. Many miss out on benefits for their health and wellbeing that a retirement community can offer.
Understandably, most people want to stay in their own home but, sometimes the home becomes the enemy. Narrow stairways, neglected maintenance, and other hazards can lead to unfortunate events. Staying active is a challenge when living alone. Isolation can lead to depression, poor eating habits, and a loss for the joy of life. Close neighbors and relatives can help, but many do not have the time or resources to help out everyday.
Do not let yourself or a loved one get caught off guard in a crisis.
Make a plan today and become more informed!
- Plan financially and understand what you can afford. Learn more about Medicare. Many think it will pay for long term care needs and it does not.
- Explore your preferences. Do you want to live with your children or do you just want to live nearby? Will you be happier making your own decisions or having someone else make them for you?
- Research multiple care agencies, service organizations, and communities.
- Understand how rates work. Is there a required minimum number of hours for service? What’s included in a monthly service fee at a community?
- Are both medical and non-medical services offered?
When considering independent caregivers instead of agencies be cautious and consider the following:
- What is the back up plan if that caregiver gets sick or can’t work?
- Do a thorough background check including a SLED check.
- Are they licensed and bonded? What training have they had?
Seek out professional opinions, and recommendations from friends, family, and other respected individuals.
Remember a crisis is not the time to be making long term decisions. Don’t wait for a day that changes everything. Instead, take time today to dream and say what if…… what if I didn’t have to take care of this house, what if I could enjoy being around more people, and what if I had more time to enjoy my life instead? And then, make a plan!