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Options for Care when Caring for the Elderly

Published by Chapster on 2005/4/6 (5258 reads)
As we watch our parents and other elderly loved ones age, we become very conscious of the changes that they are going through. We want to support them in their lifestyle for as long as possible. Yet most of us are not familiar with the resources that are available to aging adults. This article offers some basic answers to the kinds of questions family members have.

For some time now, ElderHope has been part of the Community Focus broadcasts at KEOM FM 88.5. This month we did four segments. This is the second of those segments. It was recorded by Barb on March 30, 2005.

Q: So, Barb, what are we talking about today?

A: Today, I thought we'd talk about the growing number of options for care for aging loved ones. Sometimes, it's hard to make sense of all the options that are available. What is the difference between a nursing home, assisted living facilities, continuing care facilities, respite care, and hospice. So, I thought we'd give kind of a 101-style introduction to the types of care that are available.

Q: Well, let's start right in. Most of us have some mental picture of nursing homes, but how does it fit in to the care of someone who is elderly?

A: Well, the nursing home provides care for people of all ages who cannot care for themselves, who also do not have family who can give them the extent of care that they need. Often, families of persons with a severely debilitating or terminal illness will need to place their loved one in a nursing home simply because the care that they need is so intense – medication management, hygiene care, medical interventions, housing and feeding needs – and for whatever reason, family, if there is one, is not able to give that care. As an example, an 85 year old man may have a severe stroke. His wife will almost certainly be unable to care for him at home, at least for a time, due to the heavy lifting required, the constant attention necessary, and the need to attend to her own needs.

Q: Where does the assisted living facility fit in?

A: Assisted living facilities are for those who are less debilitated but do need help with a few things like medication, and some activities of daily living, such as bathing, food preparation and getting up and around. It allows for more independence and requires less intense supervision of patients, though care is on site twenty-four hours a day. There are some facilities that focus on care of those who are memory impaired that fit especially well into this category. These patients are often not able to stay at home because they may constitute a risk to themselves and their families – for instance, they may turn on a stove burner and forget that it's on.

Q: What is the continuing care facility?

A: This is a facility that has all levels of care on its campus. They have independent senior living apartments or homes. They have assisted living. And they also have the skilled nursing departments. It is easy to move from one level of care to another as conditions change. Admission to these facilities is often set up via a contract with the facility that guarantees certain care for set fees over time.

[/b]Q: You mentioned respite care. The name suggests that it provides an opportunity to get away. [/b]

A: That's right. Some facilities and organizations have provisions for families to take a break away from the constant care of a debilitated loved one for a few days. This is called respite care. It is for those persons who are keeping their loved one at home. Hospice care, which provides care for those who have been diagnosed by a physician to have a life expectancy of less than six months, is one such organization. As part of their orientation toward comfort for both family and patient, they can provide respite under certain circumstances. There are many tools on line that can help caregivers to assess the kinds of facilities that will best fit their loved ones needs.

Tags: elderly   care   term   long   living   caring   assisted   infirm   options   resources  

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