Have you ever been in the position where you needed to find placement for someone in the senior living industry?
It can be quite daunting. I have been around and an influential part of the senior community for most of my adult life. I started my career in healthcare as a medical assistant for a colo-rectal surgeon. Other than the random person in the 40’s that came in, the client population was primarily older adults. I went from there to working on the ambulance, where I am not going to lie, was people of all ages. BUT this is where I quickly learned that the older adult needs guidance AND an advocate because unless you work in this industry it is forever changing. The laws, the processes, even the people at your primary care doctor change too frequently now days.
This is why I am basing today’s blog post on the senior community and how we can all help them. And I am going skin deeper!
I started working as a patient advocate early in my career. Why? Because I have the audacity to do it, that’s why. You see, I don’t mind speaking up for what is right. My voice carries well (this comes from over 20 years on the ambulance)and I don’t care who hears me. Years ago I used to get praised and awarded for doing what was right. HUH? How does that work? I get extra attention and even special accolades from employers for doing the right thing? This should come natural and second nature to everyone…..or so I thought.
Let’s go ahead and dive into some things that someone might need help with:
Food – We all need to eat and we desire nourishment daily. Unfortunately our aging population goes without. Whether its because they ran out of savings, had their money stolen, gave their money out of quilt or kindness to someone so on and so forth, sometimes people go without.
Ask yourself what would you do if you were hungry? Are you able to just walk in to your kitchen and whip up a meal? Do you wait for Meals on Wheels? Are you reliant on a caregiver to prepare your meals for you? Whatever the case, we should all be considerate to others. If you notice a class mate never brings a lunch – share yours. If you notice your co-worker is getting thinner and thinner and has become isolated – grab an extra apple at the convenient store when you stop for gas. If you notice the lady in the bed next to your mom at the memory care center hasn’t been eating with you when you visit anymore – ASK WHAT’S UP!
Medical Decision Making – you don’t have to be an attorney or an experienced accountant to know right from wrong. If you or someone you know is faced in having to make an important medical decision there are resources out here in this vast world for you. FREE of charge. The first is Google, now I must insist that you listen to this – Google is NOT the know all be all. Just because it is on the internet does not mean that it is correct. BUT it can lead you reputable and official sites such as: The Alzheimer’s Association, The American Heart Association, American Stroke Association or Medicare to just name a few.
Housing – This one can be challenging. Where do I live? Whats in my price range? What if I want to live alone but need medical help of some form as well? Do I need skilled nursing (formerly referred to as a nursing home), do I need to stay in the hospital? Can I go home with a friend or my children? I have found there are several companies that offer to “help” a person or their family. However I have also found that all but one of these companies have alternate motives. They seek financial gain from the person/families or force you to sign a contract because they know once you gain a little more knowledge of the industry that they are toast and you will use someone that actually has your best interest at heart.
If you are not in a hospital and not in an emergency situation, call your primary physician for guidance, this is partly what they are there for. If you are in a hospital, there is an abundance of staff there to help; social workers, case or care managers; chaplains and physicians. Any of these people can help you get to the next step. If you are already at that next step and still in a medical facility of some form utilize the social worker in place there, the administrator or even the director of nurses. And if all else fails Google.
But lets go back to that one I mentioned earlier. There is a local organization to the DFW area called Senior Living specialists. They don’t ask you to sign a contract in order to receive their help, they don’t ask for you to pay them up front, or ever for their help. This group of people will actually sit down with you (or over the phone if that’s more convenient for you) and review what exactly you are looking for, what your wants vs. needs are. They gather a lot of information in a short amount of time and then go to work. The best thing about this group is they already have a tremendous amount of information of what is out there for you so the results come back pretty quick. I know you’re asking, well how do these people get paid? We all need an income and of course they get paid. But it is ONLY if you end up in a facility they are contracted with. This group continually goes above and beyond to do what is right and that is why I am highlighting this group in my blog today. There are many places out there that pay this group for bringing you in to live at their community but then there are some that don’t. This group brings all of the options that fit within your guidelines to you, regardless of reimbursement from any community or facility. Because they do what is right. And I like that. These folks stand up for you and are advocates for you and that is rare in this day and time.
Financial Matters – ugh. MATH does anyone actually like math? My two cents? Take it to the experts. For good reason. Whether its the local accountant in your neighborhood, or Uncle Bruce who used to be the manager of the local coffee shop, get someone with some sort of knowledge that can lead you in the right direction. Find someone who knows about money and investments, savings accounts or IRA’s and talk to them. Most people off a free consultation. All banks even will help hold your money for you and offer where they think the best road is for you.
End of Life – oh boy. Now THIS is a tough one! No one ever wants to talk about or deal with end of life decisions. Most people unfortunately wait until the need is there to discuss them with family and by then you are under time constraints and unneeded pressure.
Go to your local funeral home and do burial planning. This is FREE people. FREE. You do not have to purchase anything but they will sit down with you and discuss the costs of a funeral, cremation, burial plots, the cost of the death certificate. YES, you have to pay for proof that your loved one is deceased. Silly, I know, but still true. Does your loved one want to be an organ or tissue donor? Do they want a big funeral or to be cremated? Do they want to be kept alive on life support? What about if they are in a surgery and things don’t go as planned? What then? Who pays their bills until they are able? Who will pick the dog up from doggy day care today? Talk to your family, your neighbors, your pastor. Talk to someone, anyone about your wishes, whatever they may be.
Cathy Lindsey aka Skin Deeper
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