What is the biggest complaint you hear about finding care?
Seeking care for a loved one can be a confusing and frustrating experience. People do not know how to get the appropriate information and do not know their options. Dealing with insurance, Medicare and Medicaid can seem like a full-time job, and my result in not obtaining all the benefits that are available. Getting advice from people who have or are confronting the same issues can be helpful. Another good option is to hire
a qualified professional geriatric care manager, if one is available in your area. They can be found at www.caremanager.org. This can be especially helpful if your loved one lives out of town..
What advice do you have for our readers?
If you decide to put a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility, do not feel guilty about it. You are not giving up or abandoning them. You are still the caregiver, but are now getting the extra help that can benefit both of you.
If you ask most seniors where they want to be, they will almost always tell you they would prefer to stay at home. While most people are very comfortable in their homes, it may not be the best place for them. The bathrooms may be upstairs, or the house in need of repair. Unfortunately, many people still think of nursing homes and assisted living facilities as cold, uncaring institutions. This may be true of some, but today many homes offer personalized care in a comfortable, homey environment.
When considering a facility for your loved one, the most important thing to look for is how well the staff treats each other and the residents. In her book, “Old Age in a New Age: The Promise of Transformative Nursing Homes”, Beth Baker discusses the need for management to treat certified nurses aides (cna’s) with the respect they deserve. A staff is well- treated will, in turn, treat the residents well. Before deciding on a facility, visit it all times of the day and night. Observe how nurses treat cna’s, and how cna’s treat each other and the rest of the staff. That is the best clue as to how the residents will be treated.
What resources would you recommend for caregivers?
Go to websites such as mindingourelders.com, caregrade.com, alzheimers.org, Healthcentral.com, and Eldercare.gov. Eldercare.gov has the eldercare locator, a useful tool for people looking for help. Just be aware that the services found on this site have not been screened.
How do you think the internet will affect caregivers in the future?
I think the internet is great and is going to continue growing. Helpful information is available 24/7, with a growing number of quality sites, chat groups and forums. However, caregivers are very vulnerable and need to be wary of what they read and with whom they communicate. That said, the internet is a great resource that can help caregivers lose that feeling of isolation and let them know there is hope.
Carol Bradley Bursack is a columnist, speaker, blogger and author of “Minding our Elders:Caregivers Share their Personal Stories.” Her blogs can be found at www.mindingoureldersblogs.com and www.healthcentral.com/alzheimers