As we age, we tend to face a lot of life changes which sometimes feel beyond our control. These transition points naturally bring stress. However, the way they are handled can make a significant difference in the experience and perception of the change.
Some of the major aging transitions elders face include moving to a care facility, bringing in help for the first time, going to (and leaving) the hospital, getting inpatient rehabilitation services, and moving in with family members. There are many accumulated losses that come with aging as well, such as the death of a spouse and other loved ones, giving up driving or other activities, reduced mobility and independence.
A lot of things can go wrong during these transition times, from little things like scheduling glitches to big mistakes and communication gaps. Here are some pointers on “what not to do” when it comes to helping with the senior care management of aging transitions. Don’t:
- Rush things. Allow sufficient time for the elder to discuss/process the changes. Sometimes these changes come with a crisis and time is precious, so this can be particularly tricky. As your loved one’s advocate, you may be able to find ways to buy time and even a few minutes of listening and empathy can make a big difference (when you’re facing a crisis like this, it’s a great time to call us for immediate help!).
- Ask your neighbor what to do or pick your provider based solely on what a friend suggests. It may not be the right option for you.
- Get caught up in appearances. While first impressions are important, getting too caught up in appearances may steer you wrong. This is a common mistake when it comes to facilities, since you see the bricks and mortar. Quality of care is not as transparent as the lobby or the room size, but it’s far more important.
- Use the list method. You get a list of all the available options (such as a list of all Assisted Living Facilities from the Area Agency on Aging or a list of local home health providers from the state’s website) and go through the list, interviewing or visiting every provider on the list. You will most likely become overwhelmed. Oftentimes, half of the list could be eliminated automatically as either not appropriate for your loved one or offering poor care. You also need to understand issues like regulations, levels of care and how options match up to what your loved one needs.
- Forget about the little things. Details impact the experience, from timing and meals to comfort and having the right items available (i.e. what to pack). The day of a major transition can be a rough experience with little glitches, or a nice introduction to the new service or environment if done well.
For a good real-life example about the different ways to manage senior care transitions, you might want to check out our client’s story, “One Daughter’s Eldercare Experiences: A Tale of Two Transitions“.
We offer several good resources for facing transitions. For example, check out:
Moving Day: Making a Good Transition to a Senior Care Facility (includes our Guide to Choosing the Best Senior Care Facility)
Give us a call at 727-447-5845 or click below to schedule a care consultation. We can help ensure a better transition for your loved one (and peace of mind for you!) with resources, suggestions, and an analysis of options.
A few of the senior care management tasks we can assist with include:
- Assessing the situation and optimal solutions; providing an evaluation of level of care needed.
- Maximizing resources and help available to you.
- Navigating insurance (Medicare, private insurance) and Medicaid, VA and other benefits.
- Guiding conversations, providing pointers to talk with loved ones about concerns and changes.
- Anticipating concerns and ways to avoid pitfalls during transitions.
- Ensuring good senior care management and communications between parties.
- Crisis management, helping you to “buy the time” needed to comfortably make decisions and process the change (for example, suggesting short term solutions while a more permanent decision awaits, planning discharge and working with providers on most appropriate time frames, helping with alternatives as compromise).